Bestiary of the future - Mammals
Futuristic Bestiarium
In this page descriptions of various animals and plants not included to basic chapters are gathered. The wanishing of the description from this part means that you just must search for new chapter in English version of "The incredible world tour to Neocene". Forum

Amphibians and Reptiles



Wood echidna (Dendroglossus scandens)
Order: Monotremes (Monotremata)
Family: Echidnas (Tachyglossidae)

Habitat: tropical rainforests of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Climatic change in Neocene has strongly affected upon life of various Earth inhabitants. Some of them had to abandon their habitats, other oness had died out, and third ones had received great opportunities for evolution and had turned to prospering species. Humidifying of climate has caused reduction of desert areas and expansion of tropical rainforests zone. Some of inhabitants of open spaces have to found convenient places for life in forests, and than evolved to true wood inhabitants. In Australia which even after intervention of humans has kept an originality of fauna and flora, amazing abilities to adaptation were shown by echidna - the inhabitant of savannas and light forests. It had turned to true wood inhabitant, and besides it had changed to the excellent tree-climber.
To see such animal on the tree is not so such unusual thing as it seems at first sight. Among tree-climbers in different continents there were kangaroo, porcupines and even ground tortoises, not to mention toads and frogs. Therefore the wood echidna of Neocene epoch, sauntering along tree branches, does not seem as something unusual on their background.
This is rather large animal: its body length is up to 70 cm, heads with long proboscis is about 30 cm long. Slowly moving in tree crones wood echidna outwardly resembles a hybrid of bear and anteater. The wood echidna had kept characteristic shape of these animals, but had got additional features of adaptation to clambering habit of life. Its paws which are quickly digging off the firm dry ground, now equally easily break rotten wood or strong cover of termitary. Claws becoming more bent cling to bark and branches, permitting the animal to make walks at 30-meter height so easily, as if on firm ground. For more tenacious grip thumbs on forepaws began to oppose partly to fingers. On hinder legs feet are turned back, but it at all does not prevent this animal to move. Even on the contrary to it, using such feet it is easier to climb down headfirst along the tree trunk. The little toe on hinder legs became a certain analogue of the thumb: it can be opposed to other toes too and serves for branch gripping. This animal is very strong: by paws the echidna breaks trunks of trees beginning to rot and turns out from trunk thick boughs, searching for ants and termites.
Body of the wood echidna is massive and heavy-build. The tail of animal is very short; it serves practically only for fat accumulation.
The muzzle of this echidna is long, tiny mouth opens on its tip. Main food of animal includes insects, usually ants and termites, and the main instrument of their catching is the long tongue covered with sticky saliva. Except for ants and termites, the echidna eats larvae of beetles searching them in pierced trunks of dead trees, and also insects living among epiphytic plants. The wood echidna is able even to plunder trap leaves of insectivorous plants, catching from them insects floating in digestive liquid secreted by leaves. Sometimes it simply drinks this digestive juice with insects. One more dainty for the echidna includes bird eggs. Having found a nest, the echidna drives hatching bird out from it, accurately pierces an egg-shell by claw tip and licks by tongue the egg completely. The animal exhausts all eggs in nest though sometimes it is attacked not only by nest owners, but also by their numerous neighbours have flied to help. But what can birds make with the prickly robber surpassing them many times in weight?
Eyes of the wood echidna are very small, and auricles are not present at all. This animal is short-sighted, and the prickly armor perfectly protects it from any predator of Australian and New Guinean woods, therefore the wood echidna can not react (at least, externally) to loud alarm cries of wood inhabitants. But sense of smell and touch at it are very sharp: the animal easily will feel, as on branch any bug or spider creeps, not seeing it at all.
Colouring of animal began more contrast, than at its ancestor: needles are ivory-colored, top of body is light, and stomach is dark, covered with short thin fur. At the wood echidna there is very dense and thick skin, therefore stings of ants and termites are not harmful to it. Even army ants killing all alive on their way, do not harm this phlegmatic animal: unless they will inflict some stings to sensitive proboscis or between toes. The animal has natural immunity to their poison, therefore the echidna does not avoid their attacks: such attack does not harm to it, and in it there is even such benefit – ants at the same time kill blood-sucking insects in wool of the huge echidna. If insects (and also larger enemies) appear too importunate, the wood echidna sprinkles out a jet of musk liquid from special glands. Its sickening smell easily will drive off the most persevering predator.
The wood echidna is real wood tramp. It has no precisely bordered territory, and does not protect residence from neighbours. Some animals can peacefully food on the same tree, and even to ravage one termitary in common, not paying attention against each other. During such meetings pairing happens more often. Courtship ritual at the wood echidna is not present, and the breeding season lasts all the year round.
Not changing traditions of ancestors, wood echidna lays eggs. In its clutch there are 1 - 2 rather large eggs (with small chicken egg-sized ones), covered with white skinny shell. During formation of eggs because of hormonal influence the cross skin plica on the stomach of the female is increasing and turning to brood pouch. The female lays eggs, lying on back so that the tail appeared above a head. Then the egg rolls down to the pouch itself from oviduct. The incubating lasts about three weeks. Cubs hatch underdeveloped, looking more similar to embryons. They lick milk, squeezing from pouch walls. Usually from two cubs only one cub survives. It grows quickly, and at the age of two months (when it leaves mother’s pouch), the cub weighs already about half-kilogrann. It is covered with grey naked skin, but at it the short proboscis characteristic for these animals is visible. Claws of it still soft and short but after the cub has left the pouch, it literally starts to increase from different directions: practically simultaneously at it needles, wool and claws grow. While the cub is still small, its unique protection is musk liquid with which it excretes plentifully at a fright. The female regularly visits it (approximately twice per day) and feeds with milk. For this purpose it lies down on back in forked crown of branches, and the cub licks off the milk flowing down from pouch to stomach. But gradually the cub also starts to catch insects. At the age of three months the cub already starts to wander in wood canopy with mother, studiing to swarm up lianas and to search for insect nests. At the age of eight months it reaches length about 70 cm and already is completely independent. At the age of 20 months the young female already can lay the first egg and this surprising animal can live up to the age of 60 - 70 years.

Stegoechidna (Stegotachyglossus armatus)
Order: Monotremes (Monotremata)
Family: Echidnas (Tachyglossidae)

Habitat: forests and scrub of Northern and Eastern Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

During the Cenozoic era the branch of monotreme mammals gradually declined. Their variety gradually became lesser, and the habitat area narrowed steadily. In human epoch the area of monotremes included only Australia and New Guinea. But in these districts monotremes were competitive enough, and strongly kept their place in ecosystems. Before the occurrence of people in Australia the sheep-sized giant echidna existed in this continent. But human activity had quickly resulted in extinction of these animals.
Having survived in human epoch, monotremes had proved their viability. In Neocene representatives of this group of animals had formed a number of new species. The apopheosis of evolution of this order of mammals is the largest species of ever living monotremes, the inhabitant of rainforests at the north and east of Meganesia. This animal is named stegoechidna.
The appearance of stegoechidna causes memoirs on epoch of dinosaurs. This is a large four-footed animal, growing to about one and a half meters high at a shoulder and weighting up to 200 kgs. It has a massive constitution and thick short tail. Back and tail of this animal bristle up with corneous prickles and scales, providing reliable protection against an attack of predator. Along the back of animal pointed and long corneous spikes of reddish color grow, gradually transforming to reddish plates on tail and hips. The skin of this animal about 2 sm thick is covered with short and rough black wool. The top layer of skin cornificates, forming additional protection.
Head of stegoechidna is narrow and long, with slightly curved “Roman” snout and small mouth. The bottom jaw is mostly long and thin, and only in its basis bones extend. In these places on bottom jaw thick corneous plates, with which help the animal crushes forage, develop. At this animal there are small eyes, and also external auricles are not present. Sight and hearing at stegoechidna are weak, but sense of smell is very keen.
This animal lives in underbrush and moves, supporting on external part of hand and having turned up huge forepaw claws. With their help animal digs ground in searches of forage. As against to its smaller relatives, this animal is omnivorous, and the significant part of ration of stegoechidna is made of vegetative food – tubers and roots of plants. Animal digs them out by monstrous claws of forepaws, takes by small mouth and pounds between ridge corneous plates growing on jaws and tongue basement. Also it willingly eats earthworms, grubs and fruits fallen from trees.
Stegoechidna has very small brain, and its behaviour differs in primitiveness. It leads a solitary way of life, and shows interest to relatives only during the breeding time.
These animals breed at presence of enough of food, usually in late spring or in the beginning of summer. The female lays three large eggs with dense shell into the brooding pouch forming at this time. The incubation lasts about two months. Newborn cubs eat milky secretions of skin within three months, and leave a pouch rather well developed. Having left the pouch, they follow the mother and eat larvae of insects and other invertebrates, yet become advanced enough to digest vegetative food. Young animals abandon mother at the age of about 5 months. They reach sexual maturity at the 6-th year of life.
Life expectancy of stegoechidna reaches 60 – 70 years. The adult animal does not have enemies – only few predators can bite through its thick skin. However, the young animals have recently left the pouch are protected much more poorly, than adult individuals – corneous scales and spikes at them develop within approximately one month after they leave a parental pouch. At this age the greatest number of animals of this species perishes.

This species of animals was discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Spurred Echidna (Plectroechidna toxica)
Order: Monotremes (Monotremata)
Family: Echidnas (Tachyglossidae)

Habitat: Forests of northern Meganesia.
The Neocene is, in some ways, much like the Holocene, in other ways not. The disappearance of humans is notable, but nature has carried on regardless. Some animals present in the Holocene have diversified, yet stayed fairly similar to their original ancestor. Some monotremes are a good example of this.
Echidnas of the Neocene are noteworthy for the presence of arboreal, giant, and even small burrowing forms. However, many have kept to the original mastery of their kind, the consumption of social insects. The forests of northern Meganesia hide one such creature, the Spurred Echidna. Outwardly it is very similar to its ancestor, with the exception of one remarkable feature, venom spurs. Venom spurs were typical of almost all primitive mammals, including monotremes, and simple atavisms were all that was needed to reactivate the vestigial spurs of echidnas into working ones, like the platypus.
This animal looks similar to the Holocene short-beaked echidna. It possesses spines slightly shorter than its ancestor, they are a secondary defense, spurs being a more effective deterrent. It's shape is typical, a squat body with sprawling limbs, it is about 30 cm long and weighs generally around 2 – 4 kilograms. It has a pointed rostrum, its fur is dark brown, and partly covers the spines. Its diet is mostly social ants and termites, but sometimes other insects.
Why has it grown the extra defense of a spur? Possibly because of the presence of rather large and fairly intelligent predators, that may be able to expose the animal's underbelly, Marsupial Panther, and the flightless Yagil bird both do this.
The spur is situated on each ankle, and is long and yellow. When approached by a predator, Spurred Echidna first produces a loud hiss, almost like a snake (echidnas of human epoch were only able to make a quiet hiss through the nose). It can also attack from a distance by spraying venom with the spurs. If the predator grabs the echidna, it will actively defend by stabbing with spurs. The venomous sting of the spur is not only very painful, but causes fatigue and sickness that can last some days.
Breeding takes place during the dry season, when floodwaters are gone, and suitable dry bedding is available for nest making. Females and males secrete a musky odor from the cloaca that allows them to find one another. Many males may pursue a female at once, but she will deny unsuitable males by showing her spines. As with the modern echidna, the penis is strangely shaped, similar to that of reptiles. 2 or 3 eggs are layed into her pouch about a month after copulation. Babies are small, and blind, and are suckled and raised in the nursery burrow. The milk is rich, and the babies grow relatively quickly, leaving the burrow when spines and spurs are fully developed.

This mammal is discovered by Timothy Donald Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Crested Echidna (Neoglossus spinosa)
Order: Monotremes (Monotremata)
Family: Echidnas (Tachyglossidae)
Habitat: savanna and open forest of central and southeastern Meganesia.
Monotremes of the Neocene are considerably more varied than those of the Holocene. Both platypi and echidna occupy diverse niches, mostly consuming small animals, insects and forage.
The Crested Echidna is a fairly large echidna, being similar in size and shape to the long-beaked echidna of human times (Zaglossus). It is about 60-90 cm long, and weighs up to 14 kilograms. It has relatively long, almost erect legs for an echidna, suitable for walking long distances in search of its food, ants, termites, and beetle grubs. It has a long snout, and large claws, which aid it in digging open insect nests, or grub burrows. The most obvious feature of this animal, however, are its spines. It's back is covered in a large crest of very long spines, similar to those of a porcupine, such spines can be up to 40 cm long. Shorter, stouter spines cover the rest of the body, and the tail has a cluster of fairly long spines too. Its fur is a light, dusty brown, and the long crest spines are banded in black and white, serving as a warning for predators. Shorter spines are yellow. rostrum, face, and feet are covered in black skin.
For this newer kind of echidna, spines have been taken from their initial purpose of passive defense, to more active vigorous protection similar to some porcupines. Firstly, at sighting a predator, echidna turns around, erects spines, and makes abrupt whistling noises through its nose, this is a warning. Then it will confront a predator, facing backward, with spines pointed at the hunter, and will make violent thrusting motions and short, backward charges. If the predator gets too close, these motions will intensify, and the predator may be badly stabbed by such long spines. Unlike the porcupine, these spines are firmly rooted in the echidna's thick hide, and do not come off when driven into a predator. In fact, after stabbing a predator, the echidna will make efforts to extract itself (spines are not barbed), and retreat.
During the wet season, when plant growth and abundance of insects is best, females become receptive, and smell musky. Males will not stab each other, when competing for mates, but posture and shake their spines vigorously. After copulation, 1 large egg is layed into the pouch. The pouch is forward facing, and well developed, this species does not make a nursery burrow. The female carries the egg, and then baby, until the young is mobile, and large enough to follow her, spines grow soon after.

This mammal is discovered by Timothy Donald Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Starbill (Astrorhynchus condyluroides)
Order: Monotremes (Monotremata)
Family: Duck-bills (Ornithorhynchidae)

Habitat: lower reaches of rivers of southeast of Meganesia, Flinders Island in Eyre Gulf.

Pictured by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)
colorization by Alexander Smyslov

Climatic changes in Neocene favour to evolution of thermophilic and moistureloving species. The most part of territory of Australia in Holocene was covered by droughty deserts. In Neocene this continent had moved to the north and had joined to New Guinea forming unite continent Meganesia. Rivers supplying with water plains of the central part of Meganesia spring from the north and east of the continent. The Eastern Meganesia prospers due to large river system occupying the territory of former Murray River. It runs into extensive shallow-water Eyre Gulf filled with warmed up brackish water. Expansion of habitats stimulated the evolution of water inhabitants.
The genealogical branch of monotremes declined till the Cenozoic Era had received new opportunities in Neocene. The occurrence of productive ecosystems has allowed to evolve to the various specialized species of these primitive mammal. The large piscivorous duck-bill mergotherium (Mergotherium piscivorus) inhabits rivers, and in mountain streams its tiny aggressive relative ancistrotherium (Ancistrotherium radulus) lives. In lower reaches of rivers running into Eyre Gulf, and also at small Flinders Island, one more descendant of duck-bill, the starbill, lives.
This species of duck-bills resembles the American star-nosed mole in many respects – it leads similar way of life, and even has few common features in appearance. This is small (rat-sized) animal with powerful forepaws using for digging. Between toes membranes are advanced; the animal is nice swimmer. At this animal the swimming membrane on forepaws is reduced, and they are more adapted to digging, than forepaws of duck-bill. During the swimming starbill presses them to the body. Besides the starbill is able to climb on roots in mangrove thickets, and often catches ground insects and snails. The tail at starbill is weak and short – this animal swims with the help of strong hind paws.
The most original part of appearance of starbill is its beak, the family feature of duck-bills. Beak at this species is toothless, short and wide. But on it the set of sensitive leathery outgrowths grows; that’s why the beak of starbill resembles a little the snout of star-nosed mole (hence the name: Condylura – the American star-nosed mole).
This animal is protected from predators by poisonous spurs (it is one more feature inherited from duck-bill) colored bright orange. At males spurs are longer, than at females. Fur of animal is black or dark brown with contrast white marks on head and shoulders. The predator attacking starbill will remember its colouring, having received a painful prick of poisonous spurs.
Starbill lives in damp ground of riverbanks and in marshlands. By this feature it also resembles its prototype from the insectivores order. It eats various ground and water invertebrates – earthworms, leeches, snails and larvae of insects. The animal searches for them with the help of sensitive outgrowths on edges of beak. These outgrowths are rich in chemo- and electroreceptors, and permits to define presence of live creatures even in darkness. Under water the starbill closes eyes, and is guided exclusively with the help of touch sence and receptors of beak.
Starbill is a solitary animal. Each individual digs complex system of tunnels in riverbank. The nest for posterity rearing represents the long hole terminating in the nesting chamber. This chamber is located above maximum water level, and has an emergency exit.
In lower reaches of rivers starbills of different genders lodge in different places. Males prefer to live in territories completely filling with water during the inflow. Here the amount of forage is more, and for spending the night animal often uses any casual shelter. Females prefer to settle closer to riverbanks where their long-term holes will not be filled with inflow.
At Flinders Island the separate population of this species differing in smaller sizes (animals weigh approximately 20% smaller, than their relatives from the “motherland”) lives. Conditions of life at this island are more severe, than at the continent – permanent sources of fresh water are not present there. Therefore starbills of Flinders Island receive necessary moisture exclusively from food. Also at these animals there is stronger poison secreting in smaller amount.

This animal was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Ipochereu, Amazon marsupial marten (Martenodelphis ipochereu)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: American marten opossums (Martenodelphidae)

Habitat: tropical woods of Amazon region, mountain of an equatorial zone.

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Marsupials and placentary mammals are not two levels of development, and two equivalent groups of mammals. Marsupials do not have attributes because of which they can be counted “lower” ones. Presence of brooding pouch and way of posterity bearing has imposed some restrictions to adaptive opportunities of marsupials: among them forms constantly or the most part of time living in water basically can not appear. But in ground habitats marsupial mammals rather successfully can compete with placentary ones. Isolation on southern continents obviously has not was of use for them: developing “using own sources” and being out of competition, marsupials lost in ingenuity level to the placentary contemporaries from other continents. After to South America and Australia placentary mammals have got, the significant part of marsupials had lost struggle for existence and had disappeared from Earth’s face. But extinction of plenty of mammal species in late Holocene and early Neocene had balanced chances of marsupials and placentals in the further existence. In South America some new kinds of marsupials successfully competing with placental ones had appeared. Among them representatives of American marten opossums family, predators of woods and mountains, are especially remarkable. They had descend from American opossums (Didelphidae), but evolution has perfected their predating abilities, having made these animals one of the most successful group of local predators.
In forest canopy of the Amason region, stretched to many thousand square kilometers, one of representatives of this family, ipochereu, or Amazon marsupial marten lives (Ipochereu is a name of marten, the hero of fairy tales of one Indian tribe of Amason region). By constitution ipochereu resembles the true marten, but it differs from them in larger size: length of body is about 70 cm (tail is about 1 meter long), height at a shoulderis about 30 cm. The long body and short paws with tenacious sharp claws are adaptation features for life in rich branches. Amazon marsupial marten differs in big flexibility and mobility: this predator easily can run across the rivers along thin liana at 30-meter height. Due to tenacious claws this animal moves on tree trunks easily as if squirrel. The tail of this marsupial marten is not prehensile, but during jumps from tree to tree it serves as the balance weight.
Colouring of wool of Amazon marsupial marten is spotty - on grayish-brown background there are longitudinal lines of small white spots merging on back to faltering strips. Stomach is white.
Obverse part of skull is short, but jaws are wide and strong. Brain cavity of skull is long and low. This predator kills catch (large forest rodents, birds and reptiles) by strong bite to backbone or in basis of skull. Eye-sockets are wide, sight is substantially binocular due to what the animal can precisely estimate distance before jump. Ears are short and rounded. On muzzle long whiskers grow.
As the majority of large predators, Amazon marsupial marten is solitary animal. Each animal occupies extensive territory - about 10 square kilometers. Borders of territory are marked by urine and areas of toren bark (as bears in Holocene acted), and carefully protected. Only males during breeding season come to the territory of females for pairing.
Amazon marsupial marten has two peaks of activity: in the morning (from dawn up to hottest time of day) and in the evening up to sunset. In the afternoon in heat the animal has a rest in shadow or hides in tree-trunk hollow. Sometimes Amazon marsupial marten goes down to the ground and sleeps in shadow under tree roots. On the ground this predator finds food – carrion, eggs of turtles and other reptiles. Sometimes ipochereu catches fish and crabs in shallow streams (especially frequently it makes it in mountain areas).
At ipochereu the expressed seasonal prevalence in breeding is not present, but in mountains or in the south of area cubs are born in early spring, and even at the end of winter. The pouch at this species of animals represents the horseshoe-like plica of skin inverted by the ends to tail. Up to the moment of posterity birth it is stretched, providing preservation of posterity and when cubs leave it, pouch is compressed again. In pack there are up to 5 cubs born underdeveloped as at all marsupials. They stay in pouch within three months, eating milk and developing. Then the female some time carries them on back (the relationship with opossums has an effect), but at this species similar feature gradually passes to past. In mountains some females may at once leave rather developed cubs in shelter (similarly to Australian predatory marsupial): cubs sitting on back simply prevent to hunt. Besides sometimes during catch chasing the cub simply can fall down from mother’s back and injure itself up to death. Because of it before independence only 1 - 2 cubs from pack survive. At the age of 5 months they start to hunt with mother, and completely pass to meat feeding. At this time the female is ready to rear posterity once again. At the age of seven month young animals already are completely independent, and the female already bears the next pack in brooding pouch.

Fat-tailed marsupial dormouse (Notoglis crassipyga)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Caenolestids (Caenolestidae)

Habitat: far south of South America, Tierra del Fuego, Andes – areas of seasonal climate.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Marsupials represent the characteristic group of mammals of Southern hemisphere. They are diverse in Meganesia and in South America, but in Pleistocene opossums had penetrated for the second time into North America where they lived up to Miocene, and in Neocene they widespreaded up to Greenland, having evolved a separate hardy species. One more northern advanced post of marsupials is at Hawaii where these animals had appeared due to human activity and could go through the epoch of people domination on the Earth. But all the same at southern continents marsupials are more diverse, rather than free or involuntary immigrants to the north. They lead various habits of life and occupy diverse habitats: from humid tropical forests up to snow-covered tops of Andes and cold deciduous forests of Tierra del Fuego.
Representatives of caenolestid family are tiny insectivorous forms from South America. One species of this group lives even in wool of huge groundsloth rodents. One more unusual representative of this family lives in areas of temperate and cold climate of South America – it is fat-tailed marsupial dormouse. It is very large representative of family: an adult individual is guinea pig-sized one, but it looks larger because of long fluffy tail which exceeds length of other parts of body. Head of this mammal is large and bears small auricles and large bulging eyes.
Fat-tailed marsupial dormouse leads tree-climbing habit of life and lives in forested areas. Because of rather short paws it is almost unable to jump in branches and prefers to climb, clinging by hooked claws. The tail of this marsupial is partly prehensile – its tip can twist around of branches, and the animal can hang, fixing only on tail. The fur of animal has beautiful ash-grey color with white underfur. On head and shoulders fur is darker.
The mouth of this marsupial is full of pointed teeth: fat-tailed marsupial dormouse is omnivore and has obvious tend to carnivory. Its food includes small mammals and birds, and amphibians and lizards in summer season. Also it willingly eats the carrion, also even frozen one. Similarly to the majority of animals of such kind, it is a solitary species of primitive behaviour, displaying aggression to relatives almost the year round, except for time of hibernation and courtship season.
Fur of fat-tailed marsupial dormouse is dense, short and velvety in summer and growing much longer to winter. This animal is strongly eaten off in autumn; in tail and buttocks fat is laid (hence the specific name “crassipyga”, meaning “fat back”). With approach of steady cold weather this marsupial falls into the true hibernation. For this purpose fat-tailed marsupial dormouse makes the shelter – it covers a hollow with dry leaves and constructs grass-made fuse to stop up an entrance of the hollow.
During the hibernation the body temperature of animal falls up to a minimum; breath and palpitation are slowed down in great degree. In such condition animal spends approximately two thirds of winter. In second half of winter at the female cubs are born. Shortly before the birth moment physiological processes of female become more active. She clears pouch and licks wool. Female gives birth up to ten underdeveloped cubs independently reaching her pouch. This species has only six nipples, therefore the part of cubs perishes within one hour after birth. When all nipples are occupied by cubs, the female falls asleep again, but dream is less deep. She produces milk which is periodically sprinkled in mouths of cubs. They gradually grow and develop, and the female wakes up after winter dream having already well advanced cubs. Within the summer cubs grow and pass to adult diet. At the beginning of an autumn they become independent and reach sexual maturity at the third year of life. Life expectancy of this species is up to 30 years.

Marsupial sharp-toother (Carnomacropus raptor)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Predatory marsupials (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: savannas and light forests of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Looking at this carnivorous creature, especially during its hunting, it is possible to think involuntarily, that dinosaurs have returned to Earth. But actually it is not so, though this animal by habits and constitution is very similar to reptiles missed for a long time from the face of Earth. The marsupial sharp-toother is very original animal, and in fauna of Earth of human epoch there were no analogues to it. It is animal about meter height at a shoulder and weighting up to 50 kgs, the huge descendant of small marsupial jerboas (Antechinomys). It has inherited and has developed characteristic carnivorous habits of ancestors, and increasing the size this animal has had an opportunity to attack not only small animals, but also to overpower even sheep- or antelope-sized animals. Marsupial sharp-toothers became original "cheetahs" of the Meganesian savanna attacking cursorial herbivores. They are solitaries but if they have mastered concerted group hunting, it would not be more terrible animal in Meganesia than this creature.
The constitution of the marsupial sharp-toother is adapted to fast chasing of catch: back legs of animal are advanced as well as at kangaroo, and armed with moderately long non-plungering claws (three claws on each foot). At short distances the animal can accelerate momentum up to 80 kms per hour, and at long distance it keeps speed about 40 kms per hour during tens minutes. Forepaws of animal are rather big, there are advanced long fingers with the sharp claws on them, permitting to grip and kill small catch. Tail of animal is long (the general body length is of 2 meters, half of which tail amounts), well permits to turn and to keep balance at sharp turns.
The head of the marsupial sharp-toother is armed with powerful jaws and well advanced canines: tips of canines are visible from the closed mouth. Incisors are very sharp, molars are powerful and wide: at lack of alive catch the animal eats carrion, even dried up at the sun. Frequently marsupial sharp-toothers eat up the rests of catch of other large predators. The chewing muscles are well advanced: the animal kills large animals by bite in neck, or inflicts by teeth extensive wounds to its prey and drives it up to exhaustion. Ears of animal are wide, in them there is advansed the circuit of blood vessels: in heat weather they serve for heat emission. Nasal cavity is high, nostrils form a kind of small proboscis – it simultaneously increases olfactory surface and clears inhaled air of dust: at internal edge of nostrils some numbers of the hair playing a part of dust filter grow.
Eyes of animal are directed forward, sight is binocular.
Colouring of body of the marsupial sharp-toother is basically sandy-yellow with faltering pale grey strips on shoulders and head, stomach is lighter, on tail tip there is a hairy brush of long black hair.
Marsupial sharp-toothers are solitary animals meeting each other only for the period of pairing. Also the grown up cubs some time keep near to mother, training in hunting technique. Males at this species are larger and more aggressive than females. Courtship relations of animals remind fight more: the male forces the female to pairing by every possible way, bites its skin on back and forepaws. At adult female’s ears are frequently torn up and bleed: these are traces of similar “grooming” of males. Pairing repeats some times within two - three days, then the male abandons the female and does not accept any participation in posterity rearing. Pregnancy lasts not for long as at all marsupials: about one week; newborn cubs are underdeveloped, more similar to embryons. Usually delivery begins at night, when there is no danger of drying of the cub on the sun. The female lies down in the dug out small hole so that the aperture of maternal passages is little bit higher than an entrance to the marsupium (which opens back), and gives rise up to 5 - 8 cubs. But because in pouch there are only 4 nipples, only those survive who reached to the pouch the first. The aperture of pouch is surrounded with elastic ring muscle which pulls it during movement of animal; therefore cubs do not drop out of pouch during sharp throws at catch chasing. Cubs stay in pouch for about 5 months, thus from four only two, and sometimes only one cum may survive. But its chances of the further survival are rather great: the female furiously protects cubs, attacking even on the largest herbivores if it will seem that cubs are threatened with danger. At the age of six months the cub freely follows mother and can catch small vertebrates, and one year old cub takes part in hunting on equal terms with mother. As a rule, soon after this she can give birth to new litter again. Young animals become sexual mature rather early: one-year-old females continue to grow, but already can rear posterity. Males take part in breeding from the age of two or three years.
Hunting small animals, for example, rabbits, the marsupial sharp-toother tries to creep to them as closely as it is possible under covering of grass and bushes, and then overtakes catch in short throw. Having overtaken with it, it inflicts lateral impact by claws of forepaws, trying to knock down and to wound catch, and then turns around and inflicts to chase a fatal bite. Hnting larger animals, for example, camelopes (antelope-like camels), the marsupial sharp-toother separates the planned chase from herd, and then drives it some hours along the plain, not developing maximal speed. Usually during continuous chasing the prey weakens so, that the predator succeeds to overtake it by one conclusive throw and to seize its throat.
Usually marsupial sharp-toother is active since early morning till midday and in the evening. The animal spends hot daytime in shadow of trees or in rich bushes. If it is a lot of catch, the animal can any time stay in feeding area. Then in bushes or river breakage it digs to itself wide hole where it has a rest in the afternoon and sleeps at night. At lack of catch the animal becomes the nomade and lives in temporary shelters.

Marsupial shrew (Nanantechinus aquadromeus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Dasyurids (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: Northern and Eastern Meganesia, river walleys, lakes and bogs.

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Till the Cenozoic, before the appearing of man and his satellites from among placentary mammals, marsupial mammals of Australia had developed practically all accessible ecological niches, having formed a plenty of various species. But one environment had remained completely inaccessible for them – water habitats were those ones. Among Australian marsupials there are no analogues of otters, seals or beavers. The brooding pouch, the refuge for young growth for long weeks, had made development of water inhabitancy impossible for marsupials. Therefore in Cenozoic in Australia the vacant place of large water vertebrates was shared by birds, turtles, platypuses and rodents.
In Neocene marsupials had made one original attempt to develop water habitats. Floating plants covering with leaves and stalks a surface of reservoirs, became the house for one such creature. At the end of day and at the early morning on the surface of carpet of floating plants it is possible to notice this creature, managed to find the compromise between presence of brooding pouch and semi-aquatic habit of life. It is tiny marsupial shrew - one of tiniest mammals of Neocene. Length of body of this creature may be about 4 cm; tail is about 2 cm long. The body constitution of marsupial shrew is very graceful; these small mammals are similar to shrews with long legs. Back legs of this animal are little bit longer than front ones. Head is rather large, with wide rounded ears. The muzzle is long, extended to mobile proboscis, on each side of which thin whiskers stick up. The marsupial shrew is the descendant of one of small species of marsupial mice (Antechinus).
As this animal lives in areas with a warm climate, its wool is short and rigid. It is colored light yellow, almost white color – it protects small mammal from overheat. The body temperature at the marsupial shrew is changeable: at night the animal is hidden among plants and runs into original catalepsy during which the body temperature lowers down to ambient temperature. At this time the marsupial shrew is rather languid, therefore it tries to find a reliable place where it will be not found by predator. Sometimes for spending the night the animal even gets into buds of water lilies which are closed for night, but do not immerse into the water. In hottest time of day marsupial shrew is also hidden in shadow to avoid overheat, but thus its temperature does not fall.
Fingers and toes of animal are bordered by “brushes” of hairs, and marsupial shrew greases them with fat secretions of anal glands. Due to it hairs on paws become not moistened, that permits this tiny creature to live on the surface of reservoirs. It quickly runs on floating water plants, and even can run small distances on the surface of water, quickly splashing on it by paws like the basilisk lizard (Basiliscus) known in Holocene epoch. Basically, young animals and adult males which are smaller, rather than females approximately to 30 – 40% are able to do it. Males and females without cubs can even dive for some seconds. The female, especially one with cubs, does not risk to run on water and to dive. It keeps on floating plants where it is easier to find forage and to hide from enemies.
At this creature there are very sharp teeth: marsupial shrew is a gluttonous predator, and devours for day twice more food, than it weighs itself. It eats insects and their larvae, and also small shrimps. The animal catches them, immersing head and forward part of body under water. Due to small size marsupial shrew catches larvae of mosquitoes in leaf axils of floating plants – this animal alongside with fishes and predatory insects controls the amount of mosquitoes in damp districts. Also it can catch fish fry hiding among plants, and even attacks small crabs.
Marsupial shrew lives in conditions where seasonal prevalence of climate rather feebly marked; therefore it breeds the year round. The brooding pouch at it is reduced up to two longitudinal plicas in groin area, bordering nipples from sides. In litter it may be only 3 – 5 cubs developing very quickly. At monthly age they already creep on back of the female, and in two months abandon mother. One – two weeks later the female is ready to reproduction again. Sexual maturity at young animals becomes at the age of three months. Life expectancy of the marsupial shrew is more, rather than at placentary mammals of similar size with constant body temperature: it may amount about two years. It is the result of night catalepsy which is slowing down the “combustion” of its organism.

The idea about the existence of this animal is stated by Tim Morris,
Adelaide, Australia, at the basis of idea of Dougal Dixon.

Marsupial crab-eater (Cancrivenator dexter)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Predatory marsupials (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: zone of mangrove forests separating Arafura Lake from ocean.
Mangrove forests at the northwest of Meganesia became the house for numerous and various species of animals. There are many species of various mammals among inhabitants of these forests. They can be vegetarians or predators, but one feature unites all of them – they perfectly climb on trees. Some of them eat only the food given by trees, and others feed in swamps, using trees only as a place for life. The strange descendant of marsupial mice belongs to such species – it is mobile and dexterous creature named marsupial crab-eater. The shape the marsupial crab-eater resembles tarsiers (Tarsius) of Holocene epoch, but it strongly differs from them by habit of life.
Marsupial crab-eater is medium-sized mammal. It weighs about 400 grams and it seems rather large because of lengthened paws and long flexible tail. Rear legs of this animal are much longer than front ones, and long tail serves as the balance weight at jumps. Besides the bottom side of tail is naked, and tail is also prehensile. The convergence of marsupial crab-eater and many climbing mammals of New World also had such adaptations ise shown in it. Fingers and toes of marsupial crab-eater are prehensile and mobile. The animal is able to jump and to swarm up trees. Moving down from mangrove trees to the swamp, marsupial crab-eater does not jump off on the ground – it may easily stick in silt and die. It dexterously skips on roots of mangrove trees only on hind legs, and climbs on branches in tree crone with the help of all four paws and tail. Marsupial crab-eater can make long jumps from tree to tree, especially being pursued by predators.
The wool of this animal has reddish-brown colouring with yellow spots forming longitudinal lines on back. Throat, breast, stomach, forepaws and the bottom part of hinder legs are white.
Marsupial crab-eater has large eyes directed forward and providing almost completely binocular sight. Also it has wide rounded ears and long mobile proboscis-like nose. Marsupial crab-eater is an exclusive predator with sharp incisors and multituberculate molars. It eats small animals, searching them on roots of mangrove trees during the outflow time. The basic prey of this animal includes crabs; animal prefers to catch young crabs and crabs of small species. It catches crabs by very original way: in order to seize the crab, the animal overhangs headfirst and keeps by hinder legs and tail for roots of mangrove trees. By free forepaws marsupial crab-eater seizes crab for the bases of claws, and thus does not give it to protect itself, and then it puts to prey fast bite by powerful incisors. This animal eats prey, sitting vertically on tree branch and holding it in forepaws. Marsupial crab-eaters drink rain water, licking it from leaves, or cautiously drinking up the top layer of fresh water from the surface of mangrove swamp channels.
Marsupial crab-eater is a solitary animal meeting congeners only in courtship season. These animals declare rights to territory, uttering loud shrill cries. If two animals meet each other at border of territory, they display force to each other, having seized branch by all paws and shaking it. After rain animals mark borders of the territory with urine.
In the most remote place of the territory each animal builds on tree wum sphere-shaped nest among live branches, bending and plaiting branches with fibres and strong leaves of plants like pandanus (screw palm). Branches continue growing, and the nest becomes strong and imperceptible. In this nest animal spends night, and female leaves the grown up cubs.
The courtship season at marsupial crab-eater proceeds during all year round. Males of this species search for females ready to pairing by smell. Courtship at marsupial crab-eater is rough enough and hard: male interferes to the territory of the female, pursues her and forces to stop for pairing, biting her tail and hips. At this time he utters the special sounds similar to grumble.
After very short pregnancy at the female up to five underdeveloped cubs are born. But in pouch opening forward like at kangaroo, there are only two nipples; therefore only two cubs survive. They develop in pouch for a long time (till about four months). The grown up cubs still some time sit on back of the female, keeping for its wool and having clasped its tail. The female leaves grown up and already heavy cubs in nest and comes back to them for feeding 4 – 5 times a day. At this time cubs gradually start to study climbing and jumping on trees. When they become independent enough and start to accompany with the female during hunting, she has already time to couple and soon gives rise to new cubs.
Marsupial crab-eater becomes sexually mature at the age of one year. Life expectancy of these animals makes 10 – 12 years.

Marsupial potto (Neodasyrus auridae)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupalia)
Family: Dasyurids (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: mountain forests of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Like other carnivorous marsupial, the quolls had experienced hard times in Holocene epoch: their number decreased greatly due to anthropogenic pressure and competition to introduced placental predators. However, unlike their larger relatives, the thylacine and the Tasmanian Devil, quolls managed to go through anthropogenic pressure, the co-existing with more evolutionally advanced animals, climatic disasters and much more.
However, such “tests” have not gone unnoticed for the quolls: some of their species became extinct, and the descendants of others sometimes began to develop in quite different evolutional directions, acquiring completely different features. Marsupial potto is one of such deviating species.
Like its placental analogue it is a small animal about 26-33 centimeters long, having short tail. This tail is a legacy of the ancestral condition: marsupial potto moves too slowly and does not leap, so it does not really need a tail.
The ancestors of marsupial potto had spotted coloration, but nocturnal lifestyle made the fur of this animal monotonously dark brown with a golden tint. Also it has shorter and broader snout, larger eyes and ears, and longer whiskers. The teeth are small, but strong, able to bite through even a thick bone. Marsupial potto is an active predator that feeds on insects and spiders, slugs and snails, tree frogs and lizards, small mammals and birds – everything that it can catch and kill with a strong bite. Dark fur of this animal makes it hard to see at night when it sneaks up onto its prey – its short legs are poorly adapted for longer leaps or a long chase, but it can sneak up to sleeping birds very cautiously.
Marsupial potto comes down to the ground very rarely – mainly to slake its thirst. But more often this animal finds rosettes of epiphytic plants where water accumulates and so it does not need to go down to the ground at all. Twice a year the females begin to call out to males with barking sounds, indicating the beginning of heat. If two or more males meet near the same female, there will be severe fighting, and sometimes they bite each other. The winner mates with the female and leaves it – the female of this species raises its litter alone. The pouch has only two nipples, but the female gives birth to up to 5 offspring – but only those ones survive, that reach the nipples first. At the age of three months the young begin to leave the pouch and being 8 months old they are independent. By that time the female is ready to breed again. If any female loses its cubs for some reason, it comes into heat much faster.
The life expectancy of marsupial potto is 8-10 years; the sexual maturity comes at two-and-a-half to three years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Bhut, the forum member.
Translated by Bhut.

Filicide embryotherium (Embryotherium infanticidum)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Predatory marsupials (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: Meganesia, woodlands and forests of various types.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

People-caused introducing of placental mammals to Australia had strongly reflected in evolution of local marsupials. Many carnivorous species of marsupials had been exterminated by people or had died out, when people had exterminated large herbivorous marsupials. And small marsupials frequently did not maintain a competition to placental predators. But one group of Australian predatory marsupials had got great advantage from occurrence of placentals in Australia – these ones were small predators, marsupial mice. When epizootias had reduced the number of placental predators occupied Australia, marsupial predators had not missed their chance and had returned in new quality – as clever, furious and easily adapting species. Gradually they had taken a place in new ecosystems of Australia and further in Meganesia.
The descendant of one Holocene species of marsupial mice, tiny (the total body length is no more 10 cm, not including short tail) species of predatory marsupial mammals, had developed the unique habit of life combining predating with original kind of parasitism. It lives in places where many species of large marsupials live, and spends a part of life, parasitizing in their brooding pouch. This animal penetrates into pouches of large marsupial mammals and eats still tiny newborn cub bearing by them. Then adult animal is attached instead of it to the nipple and feeds on milk secreting by the female involuntarily becoming the host of parasite. This animal is named filicide embryotherium.
At embryotherium many infantile features are kept in appearance. The skin of this mammal is covered by thin soft wool and is completely naked in some places. In appearance of animal the sharp sexual dimorphism is expressed. Wool of females is thin and sparse; its color is yellowish-white. Males have richer greyish-yellow wool with cross brownish strips.
Embryotherium, however, spends a significant part of life out of host animal pouch. It is connected mainly with search of sexual partner, settling of young animals and search of host animal by them. Embryotherium has well advanced sensitive eyes and large ears – not living in host pouch animal leads nocturnal habit of life and prefers to hide in various shelters in day time. Its sense of smell is very keen – animal easily distinguishes by smell the female bearing the newborn cub on the background of smells of other part of herd. Paws of embryotherium are strong and supplied with well advanced claws. This animal is rather mobile: embryotherium can swarm up trees, run and jump fast. Its mobility is connected to necessity of search of host animal.
By the appearance embryotherium resembles a mouse. It has rather large head with the short muzzle; muzzle, lateral parts of head and throat are almost hairless. Teeth of animal are short and sharp; only incisors and canines develop. The reason of it is a fact that till the significant part of life animal eats soft food and has no necessity to chew it. Milk-teeth of embryotherium are advanced better, than second ones – it is connected to necessity to lead an active habit of life till the first weeks of independent life, up to the meeting of host animal. Some more interesting adaptations to existence in pouch of host animal are the features of excretory system. Embryotherium produces very dry dung and concentrated urine. Leaving the nipple of host animal, embryotherium puts out back from its pouch, sharply throws outside dung and urine, and then hides again.
Embryotherium is able to hunt and to eat small animals – worms, slugs and soft-bodied insects like cockroaches and young crickets. Usually such diet is characteristic for young individuals. Males spend in pouches of host animals rather small part of life – they grow up, eating milk of the host animal, and at the approach of sexual maturity leave the safe refuge. Adult males search for females by smell and pair with them actively. Sperm keeps viability in sexual ducts of the female till the long time, and it can bring up to three litters after one pairing. It is an adaptation to secretive parasitic habit of life. After pairing the female at which cubs develop, searches for the host animal. It settles in its pouch, kills and eats its cub, sticks to nipple of the host animal, and raises its own posterity in safety and food abundance. In litter of the embryotherium it may be up to 6 – 7 cubs. The pouch of embryotherium looks like two thin and elastic longitudinal plicas surrounding nipples from two sides. Cubs eat parent milk for very long time – it is their only food till about 4 months, and during the entire life they keep ability to digest milk proteins. Young embryotheriums grown up sizable enough, leave host animal’s pouch and lead independent life within several months. Females reach sexual maturity rather early – at the second month of independent life. After pairing embryos in their bodies run to a diapause and do not develop while the female will reach normal physical standard. Free-living males seldom survive over two years, but separate individuals succeeded to find the host animal after rough courtship season, quickly restore forces and can live up to four-year-old age.

The idea about existence of this species was proposed by Simon and Mutant, forum members.

Marsupial bloodsucker (Vampyrotherium nosferatu)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Dasyurids (Dasyuridae)

Habitat: Meganesia, forests, woodlands and bush.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Marsupial mice appeared one of the most successful groups of carnivorous marsupials of Neocene epoch. Large species of predatory marsupial had not sustained a competition with placental carnivors introduced in human epoch. But placentals could not displace marsupials in ecological niches of small predators. The survival of small carnivorous marsupials became a basis of their future success in Neocene. Among Neocene descendants of marsupial mice the true giants, marsupial panthers, had appeared. Other descendants of marsupial mice, embryotheres, had got very strict feeding specialization and had developed the special form of predatoriness which could appear only in the world where large marsupial mammals live. And one more descendant of marsupial mice, marsupial bloodsucker, represents the kind of haematophagous parasite – it is a very unusual phenomenon among vertebrates.
Marsupial bloodsucker is tiny species of mammals: its length is no more than 5 cm (not including tail). Only marsupial shrew – another dwarf species of marsupials – is smaller than this one. In its constitution marsupial bloodsucker differs only a little from other species of marsupial mice – it is mouse-looking mammal with short ears and thin naked tail about 4 cm long. Wool colouring of this little mammal is ash-grey, but head and shoulders are black, and a tip of muzzle is white. Such colouring is disruptive, and it prevents a probable predator to distinguish this mammal in conditions of bad lighting. In case of danger this little mammal hisses threateningly and rushes on predator, putting to it deep wounds with teeth.
Marsupial bloodsucker lives in wood areas of Meganesia, avoiding of semideserts. In savanna it keeps near to reservoirs where bushes and trees grow. In open area this animal has two peaks of daily activity: in early morning and at the beginning of night. It is too hot in savanna or in woodlands in the afternoon and probable predators are more active. And at night, on the contrary, it is also too cold. In tropical forest where day and night temperature difference is less expressed, marsupial bloodsuckers are active in the afternoon. These animals do not have determined territory and lead solitary way of life.
Marsupial bloodsucker eats almost exclusively blood of warm-blooded animals, attacking them while they sleep. It finds potential prey by smell. This little mammal cautiously climbs up in convenient place on their body, precisely determining where the skin is thinner and blood vessels lay close to its surface. For this purpose it is served with a site of naked skin on throat in which the set of receptors is concentrated, and also with receptors on lips. Having found the suitable place marsupial bloodsucker bites through skin of the donor animal and licks off the streaming blood.
Teeth and jaws of marsupial bloodsucker are specialized to this type of feeding. It has broadened and flattened (“bulldog-like”) muzzle with the mobile lips permitting more effective blood sucking. Incisors in upper jaw of animal are compressed from sides and work like blades – they make a vertical cut on skin of prey. The saliva of animal contains anticoagulants (as at American bats Desmodus) and the substances rendering anesthetizing effect.
Marsupials bloodsuckers find each other in forest and savanna with the help of smell. At these animals there are specific glands from which the animal emits a secret having strong characteristic smell as required. During the search of donor animal gland ducts are closed by special sphincter muscles. Also before search of donor animal marsupial bloodsucker carefully licks wool around of gland ducts, hiding its own specific smell.
The courtship period at marsupial bloodsuckers lasts for all year. Male is tinier than the female and approximately 20% lighter. Within one year the female can bring up two litters of cubs. Female has 8 nipples surrounded by ring-like plica of skin forming a brooding pouch, which entrance aperture it is shifted back to the basis of tail. She gives rise simultaneously up to 20 underdeveloped cubs; only ones managed to reach up to nipples can survive. It happens that even four young animals from one litter rarely can survive up to independent condition. They reach sexual maturity at the age of one year; life expectancy of marsupial bloodsucker reaches six years.
These blood eating animals are carriers of filariae – parasitic nematodes. It happens especially frequently in tropical forest. Filariae pass one stage of development in mucous epithelium of mouth of animal and infect donor animals, getting into the blood flowing from the wound made by marsupial bloodsucker.

The idea of existence of this species was proposed by Simon, the forum member.

Marsupial digger (Pseudotalpa geobia)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: False marsupial moles (Pseudonotoryctidae)
Habitat: bush savannas of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Marsupials in Australia have shown to the full an opportunity of evolution of separate limited group of animals. Among them in different time ecological analogues of placentary mammals, frequently belonging to different orders, had appeared. Even the marsupial mole lived in Holocene at the territory of Australian deserts – the kind of blind digging marsupials.
In Neocene among marsupials the second time the species having underground habit of life had appeared. It can seem strangely enough, it had evolved due to activity of human for a long time disappeared on Earth. In due time people had introduced rabbits to Australia, and they have successfully gone through cataclysms on border of Holocene and Neocene due to the abilities to adaptation and high fertility. In rabbit holes spreading under ground to many tens of meters and forming ramified systems various species of animals settled. Among them any species of marsupial mice (Antechinus), subsequently adapted to completely underground way of life was. This small predator had to found in rabbit holes practically everything necessary for its life: relative safety and food – numerous insects hiding in holes from day time heat. In holes it was always possible to find larger catch – dead rabbit cubs. Evolution had picked up and had improved this idea and as a result savannas of Neocenic Meganesia were occupied by one more species of digging marsupials – by marsupial digger.
This animal is medium-sized one: length of body is about 20 cm, and height at a shoulder is only about 6 – 8 cm. Body of this small mammal is cylinder-shaped and muscled; it is covered with short velvety brown-colored fur. Paws of marsupial digger are short, on strong forepaws there are three long strong claws of yellowish color (on II, III and IV fingers) with which help the animal carves its burrows. Hinder legs are very short, with narrow feet and four fingers (there is no thumb at the foot). Tail of this animal is short and very thick; it serves for accumulation of fat stock. The layer of fat also is laid on waist of animal.
At the marsupial digger there are short wide head and very strong skull. Bones of skull are thick and also have grown together with each other to solid vault. Eyes and auricles are absolutely not present at it, and nose is covered with corneous scute, as at marsupial mole (Notoryctes). Nasal cavity of animal is strongly expanded, and its internal surface is covered with set of plicas – animal has keen sense of smell. Looking at teeth of marsupial digger everybody will understand that it is furious predator in its weight category: all teeth in its mouth are peaked and cutting; and canines are rather long, even jutting out from mouth.
The marsupial digger lives exclusively under ground and never leaves on surface. If the marsupial mole of Holocene epoch preferred to live in drift sands, the marsupial digger builds constant system of constant holes in dense ground, in which it waits for catch – every possible small animals. These small mammals are very strong, and are able to kill animal larger than itself. Metabolism at marsupial digger is rather intensive: for day it eats quantity of food only twice less, than it weighs itself. Having found a plenty of food, the animal eats it all and quickly accumulates fat in back part of body and tail. The full digger becomes inactive to any time. It creeps to the hole, closes an entrance by cover of friable ground and vegetative rests, and sleeps. After the food will be digested, it wakes up and begins to hunt again.
The hole of marsupial digger includes main chamber located at the depth about 2 meters under ground, additional chamber which incorporates with main one by unique vertical corridor, and system of radial burrows spreading from the additional chamber to sides at the depth about meter. On the ground surface it is possible to heaps of ground pulled outside by this animal. The marsupial digger throws out ground through an inclined course, instead of vertical shaft, as moles do.

Burrow systems of different animals of this species never incorporate directly with each other: marsupial diggers are soliyary animals. But it yet does not mean, that this animal avoids other “colleagues” in underground life: whenever possible this animal builds joint systems of holes with rabbits. Some burrow systems of marsupial diggers frequently adjoin from edges to one settlement of rabbits. Obviously, rabbits are not in delight from such neighbourhood: the marsupial digger makes it having especially gastronomic interests – it can attack rabbit cubs, and at times attempts even healthy adult rabbit if it will manage to cut off way to escape to prey. Besides having attached the dwelling to hole of rabbits, the animal saves forces at burrowing of own holes, chasing every possible inhabitant of rabbit holes. More often rodents – mice and rats appear on its “lunch table”. Sometimes even other small predators - marsupial hermins (Mustelogale dolichocranus) become its prey, getting for hunting in holes of rabbits. Obviously, at an attack against such rather dangerous animals the horn scute on muzzle rescues the marsupial digger against wounds.
During breeding season males leave holes and wander in underground burrows searching for females. They are extremely aggressive relatively to each other and if two males will meet in hole, one of them can kill and to have eaten another one.
At these animals constant pairs have not formed, and the destiny of posterity is completely indifferent to the male. At any opportunity male even can eat young animals if will to find a hole with cubs. The female gives rise only to three – four underdeveloped cubs. They creep in pouch (opening back) and grow in it about one month. After that the female leaves them in hole, and regularly comes to feed. For one year the female has about three packs.
Three-month aged cubs already can freely move in underground holes. They leave territory of the female and live independently. Within the first months of life repugnatorial glands at them are not advanced, therefore their presence can remain unnoticed by adult animals of this species. But up to the period of puberty (at the age of about seven months) at young animals the smell appears, and aggression sharply grows. The marsupial digger lives seldomly more than four years.

Marsupial spiketail (Spinurotherium leucospinus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Spike-tailed marsupial rats (Spinurotheriidae)

Habitat: bushy savannas of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Neocene climatic conditions in Australia/Meganesia became more favorable for life. Water had come to central areas of this island continent, having transformed deserts to savanna with circuit of shallow-water rivers and lakes. In such favorable conditions many new species of animals have appeared on continent.
The fauna of Meganesia of Neocene epoch represents fantastical combination of descendants of native marsupial mammals and introduced by people placentary ones. Epizooties of rabies and plague of carnivores have reduced chances of survival of introduced placentary predators to zero, but the competition to them had perfected features of adaptation at local marsupial Carnivores, and had permited to few survived ones to take place at top of food pyramid. Among large-sized herbivores it is possible to meet not only graceful and harmonous descendants of camels found due to the people new native land in Meganesia, but massive marsupial animals too. And among small and medium-sized animals marsupials successfully compete to rabbits and rodents introduced to this continent.
Among dense grass of Meganesian savanna it is possible to see strange object: something similar to white flower, sticking up on hairy stalk. But, when this object starts to move among grass stalks, it becomes clearly seening, that it is not a plant but any animal. From time to time the owner of this “flower” rears on hinder legs, and it can be seen more detailly. It is a cat-sized animal covered with short wool. At it there are long flexible nose surrounded with thin wiskers, round eyes and ears similar to rabbit’s ones. Well advanced claws are appreciable on strong paws of this animal. And the thing looking like certain fantastic “flower” actually is very long tail. At the tip of tail hairs are modified to white-colored needles with black bases forming hairy brush. For such appearance of this structure the animal had received the name “spiketail”. It has habit to lift from time to time tail vertically upwards: this way spiketail communicates with neighbours at long distance. A certain species of Australian marsupial mice had become an ancestor of the spiketail.
Colouring of animal is rather motley: the body is covered with brown wool with dim black speckles, the mouth is led round by thin strip of white wool. On the back of marsupial spiketail there are some alternating black and white cross strips. All tail is black, and white needles are brightly appreciable on its background. Being attacked by predator, spiketail warns it that it is armed, curving back like a cat, lifting up tail, and shrilly squealing. If it does not stop predator, the spiketail protects itself against it by impacts of tail. In the basis of each spike there is a muscle attached by one end to backbone. With the help of such muscles the spiketail can press spikes to each other, forming “beater” or to spread them widely in sides, forming true weapon which impact can be rather painful. Defending itself against predator, marsupial spiketail turns around on hinder legs, keeping to aggressor by side and swinging by tail extensively.
In mouth of spiketail it is possible to see both sharp incisors and canines, and wide knobby molars. The marsupial spiketail has a little deviated from diet of ancestors: it is omnivorous (marsupial mice are predators), and the most part of its diet consists of plants. The animal is able to dig out roots from ground, dexterously swarms up bushes and low trees in searches of fruits, chews unripe seeds of grasses. But it also likes to diversify the diet with food of animal origin. On trees and in bush marsupial spiketail searches for small reptiles, large insects and bird’s nests. In the ground except for roots spiketail willingly finds and swallows worm or larva of any insect. By smell it finds the rests of predator meal, and with pleasure gnaws bones and cartilages.
These animals are solitaries, but they support visual contact to neighbours, from time to time rising on hinder legs and looking around. They usually avoid close meetings, preferring to leave an urine mark on objects allocated among savanna – trunks of trees, termitaries and stones. Unique exception is a time of breeding season. At this time marsupial spiketails gather to small groups – approximately fifty-fifty females and males. Males compete with each other for females, establishing hierarchy in short duels. During such tournaments they beat each other by tail, but in this case needles are densely compressed and do not cause wounds to the opponent. After pairing the male loses interest to the female and starts to look after for next one. Thus it jumps after chosen female on hinder legs, uttering keen chirp and snort. Each female couples with several males, therefore paternity at these animals is difficult to establish. Sometimes in one pack cubs at once from two males can appear.
After short pregnancy the female gives rise to about ten tiny underdeveloped cubs. But the chance to survive is not at all of them: at the female there are only six nipples. The pouch at this animal is presented by two longitudinal plicas of skin, surrounding nipples from two sides. This skin is elastic, therefore cubs are not threatened with danger to drop out of it. They develop in pouch about three months, and to this time from six cubs only three or four ones survive. Grown up cubs move on back of mother, and it drags them on herself one month more. At this time on tails of young animals needles start to grow. Gradually cubs pass from milk to adult diet, and start to feed near mother independently, at the same time training at it to ways of food getting. Half-year old cub already becomes completely independent. The young female can bear posterity first time already at one-year-old age.

Erucotherium, caterpillar beast (Erucotherium quasiapodus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Erucotheres (Erucotheriidae)

Habitat: tropical forests of Meganesia, leaf litter.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Neocene restoration of tropical forests stimulated intensive evolution of forest inhabitants and occurrence among them of specialized forms occupying strict ecological niche. One species of mammals living in forests of Meganesia reached an extreme degree of specialization to its way of life. This creature is the distant relative of marsupial mice passed to burrowing habit of life. Its specialization had gone very far; the result of it is a significant reduction of some parts of body. The name of animal means “almost legless caterpillar beast”. It lives in friable leaf litter of Meganesian forests, not being dug deeply in firm ground. In the body shape it has convergent similarity to wedgehead (Herpethotalpa caeca), digging lizard of skink family living in the same places. The body of erucotherium is about 40 cm long at the maximal thickness up to 7 cm. It is cylindrical, truncated on the back end and wedge-shaped from head end. Wool is short, dense and velvety, of grey, brown or reddish color. On head there is a flat corneous plate of yellowish color is advanced; it serves for protection of skin at digging.
Forepaws of erucotherium are strongly reduced. Bones are very short; ulna is reduced and radius is thickened. Hand bones fuse and lose mobility. Only humeral and wrist joints keep partial mobility. From outside from forward limbs two large claws (3-rd and 4-th fingers) located on small lumps protrude – it is an only seen part of forepaws. Claws serve for fastening in the ground and for pushes. Hinder legs are less reduced in comparison to front ones and keep the limited mobility. Two-toed foot with thin and mobile 2-nd and 3-rd toes and normally advanced ankle joint is visible outside. The role of these toes in life of erucotherium is great: they serve for clearing of pouch at females and for keeping of the female during the pairing at males. Strong flattened tail with the wide basis helps to push forward in the ground. The tip of tail is dulled and gristly – it serves as a support at burrowing in the ground. Tail vertebrae have wide and powerful lateral outgrowths.
The chest of animal is motionless, ribs strongly fuse to backbone. The animal breathes exclusively with the help of diaphragm movements. The lumbar part of backbone is long and very flexible: animal can easily bite its own heel.
Despite of deep specialization to underground habit of life erucotherium is not helpless if it should leave a usual inhabitancy. In case of need it is able to swim perfectly, waving the whole body as if a dolphin. With the help of sensitive bristles on muzzle it perceives the waves reflected from subjects, and can be guided in water and bypass large obstacles at least partly.
Eyes of erucotherium are strongly reduced and hidden under skin. The skull of animal is strong and thicken; it serves for tunnel burrowing. It is flattened and has advanced cross crests for an attachment of the muscles raising head up. External ears are lack; the acoustic duct represents a small aperture. This animal perceives good the sounds getting in ear from the ground through bones of lower jaw. The similar mechanism of sound perception is characteristic for cetaceans, but in this case it was developed independently. This animal hears badly the sounds spreading in air. Erucotheres communicate to each other with the help of the odorous labels left in thickness of leaf layer.
This mammal eats any animals living in leaf litter. In order to get food erucotherium developed long tongue which can be extended forward for length of head. Edges of tongue are covered with corneous combs, and its basis had shifted far back and is attached to sternum. Tongue serves for digging and capture of worms, insects and their larvae, and also helps to clean wool. Due to flexible backbone animal can lick wool on all parts of body.
Erucotherium is reliably protected from enemies. In the basis of tail it has a pair of glands secreting badly smelling oily liquid. Defending against enemies, this animal can bite strongly. It has pointed teeth adapted to feeding on insects. Besides the saliva of erucotherium is toxic for small animals and in large predators it causes long weakness and pain if gets in open wounds.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of this species is not present. Male finds the female ready to breeding by smell, pairs with her keeping her by teeth and by hinder legs, and leaves female right after pairings. Pregnancy is short as at all marsupials – not longer than one week. The brooding pouch having two nipples is opened back and before birth of cubs the female clears it by toes. The female raises only two cubs two times per one year. During the cub birth she turns on back and cubs have an opportunity to creep into the pouch. Up to five cubs are born simultaneously, but only ones managed to reach nipples can survive. They develop in pouch till two months and then the female cares of them till about one month, feeding them up on caught insects. Young animals reach sexual maturity at the age of 8 – 9 months. Life expectancy does not exceed 8 years.

Marsupial sloth (Bradyphalanger scandens)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Phalangers, or Climbing marsupials (Phalangeridae)

Habitat: tropical woods of Northern Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Neocene Australia moving to the north has collided against New Guinea Island. As a result in northern area of continent young mountains have started to increase. This area is in the zone of equatorial climate, and mountain covered by rainforest giving shelters and food to various live creatures. As well as in other parts of the world, life in Meganesian rainforests is concentrated in forest canopy at height 20 - 30 meters above the ground. Many original live creatures, descendants of Holocene inhabitants of this region, live here. One of them is the original herbivorous representative of marsupials – marsupial sloth, the descendant of cuscuses (Phalanger).
Similarly to South-American “colleague” of Holocene epoch, marsupial sloth is the inactive herbivorous animal slowly moving in tree crones, suspending on them from below with the help of hooked claws. This animal weighs about 15 kgs; length of its body is about half meter. However, as against the “true” sloths of South America, the Australian marsupial sloth has also long prehensile tail, by the size exceeding body length. The bottom side of this tail is covered with naked skin with set of cross combs (similar to papillar patterns on hands of primates) – it raises durability of capture of support. Working as the “fifth paw”, tail helps this animal to keep on branches. But basic organs of movement are unusual paws of the marsupial sloth.
Forepaws of this animal are similar to monkey’s ones - the thumb opposes to fingers. But on hinder legs from one side the thumb and joined together second and third toes, and from other side fourth and fifth toes are opposed against each other. Back legs of the marsupial sloth are powerful “pincers” by which it grips branches when it takes to itself food by forepaws. Backbone and neck of the marsupial sloth are very flexible: hanging a back downwards, the animal easily can bend a half-revolution, touching by forepaws the bottom branch of tree.
Head of the marsupial sloth is rather flat, short and wide: at it chewing muscles are strongly advanced. Molars of animal are wide and knobby – leaves of trees and firm seeds which this mammal cracks with loud crunch make significant part of its diet. The marsupial sloth willingly adds food of animal origin to its diet: eggs and nestlings of birds, and also large insects and snails.
The marsupial sloth is colored according to the habit of life: because more than half of time it spends hanging under branches, its stomach is darker, than back is. On the back of animal fur is gray-brown with numerous narrow faltering cross strips – it is an excellent imitation of tree bark. On stomach wool is monocoloured, dark-brown. Hands and feet of animal are naked, covered with rosy-gray skin. Around of big orange-brown eyes there are circles of yellowish wool, tip of muzzle is of the same color. Male and female do not differ in colouring; the male is simply a little larger.
At this animal color binocular sight is advanced, there is sharp sense of smell, and the hearing is a little bit dulled. Nasal cavity of the marsupial sloth is short and wide, and ears are almost latent in fur. By the “intellectual development” this animal continues “traditions” of marsupials: brain cavity at it is small. But at its habit of life the special ingenuity is practically not needed.
Marsupials sloths are sluggish solitary animals. They are practically omnivorous and do not depend on any limited fodder resource, therefore they tolerantly concern to presence of each other and have no protected territories. Only the female bearing posterity in pouch becomes a little more aggressive to neighbours.
Pairing and birth of cubs at marsupial sloths occurs practically in any season. The female ready to pairing, during movement marks branches and leaves by the smell: repugnatorial glands at it are in axillary area, and it simply drags a branch between paw and side, having griped it. The male finds the female using these marks; then he couples to her without any rituals, and marks wool of the female by his smell. Such feature of behaviour is characteristic for some Holocene species of cuscuses.
Pregnancy lasts not a long time, and after 8 - 9 days tiny underdeveloped cubs are born. Usually up to 10 cubs are born, but at the female there are only six nipples, therefore some newborn marsupials sloths at once are doomed for death. Cubs independently get into pouch opening back, and start to suck milk and to grow. Approximately at the age of two months they can leave mother’s pouch and remain on its body, clinging for its paws. Usually up to this moment only three or four cubs from all survive, and only two or three cubs from litter can become independent completely. At the age of four months youngsters already depend on mother a little, and to the age of five months they become completely independent. At this time the female already carries a new pack in pouch. For one year it can give birth up to three packs of cubs.
Young marsupial sloths become sexual mature at one-year-old age though active growth proceeds at them till two years. Life expectancy of these animals is no more than 8 – 9 years.

Drummer cuscus (Onychowirlda tympanista)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Phalangers, or Climbing marsupials (Phalangeridae)

Habitat: plain rainforests and mountain fog woods in Northern Meganesia.
Neocene is the epoch of the occurrence of extensive large forests in Northern Meganesia, and the development of rich fauna of tree-climbing animals. In forest canopy, at height of several tens meters above the ground, various mammals live: rodents, chiropters and marsupials. For similar ecosystems the combination of two factors is typical: on the one hand, the abundance of kinds of food, but on the other hand, rather rigid competition. Therefore in such ecosystems very much specialized species frequently evolve.
In the evening and at night in forest canopy frequently it is possible to hear rolling knock on tree, similar a little bit to drumming which a beak of woodpecker beats out. Woodpeckers do not live in Meganesia, therefore instead of them absolutely other animals hunt wood-boring insects. One of these creatures is rather large (cat-sized) species of cuscuses. This creature is vaguely similar to lemur aye-aye (Daubentonia), dwelt on Madagascar in Holocene epoch. But instead of thin sensitive middle fingers thumbs armed with thick massive claw are strongly advanced on forepaws of this cuscus. On other four fingers there are very sensitive subungiuses covered with thin skin. Searching for insects, this cuscus “drums” on bark and wood by thumb claws and catches vibrations of wood by subungiuses of other fingers. Because of this feature the animal has received the name drummer cuscus. Most likely, it is the descendant of fox brush-tailed cuscus (Trichosurus vulpecula), one of few cuscuses had received advantage from the neighbourhood with people in Holocene epoch.
This marsupial is fine tree-climber, spending all life in crones of trees and never going down to the ground. All paws of this animal are prehensile, and the long fluffy tail serves for maintenance of balance. The short velvety fur of the drummer cuscus is colored grayish-beige color with marble pattern of cross strips. It provides fine masking for animal swarming up on bark. Drummer cuscus is too massive to jump from branch to branch similarly to marsupial lemurs, cats or primates. But its paws differ in great strength of seize – this animal can hang freely on one paw, and during the combat with small predator cuscus can simply strangle it. Even dead animals of this species seize branches so strong, that they fall on the ground already semi-decomposed.
At this marsupial there is the head with short wide muzzle and large sensitive ears. Eyes of drummer cuscus are large and yellow, with strong shine characteristic for nocturnal animals.
Distinctive feature of this animal is strongly advanced incisors similar to incisors of rodents, and very strong chewing muscles. This is the adaptation for feeding on insects hidden in thickness of wood. “Percussing” wood by claws, animal listens to the tonality of sound, and feels by fingers changes in character of vibration of wood. By these attributes drummer cuscus defines presence and direction of tonnels made by larvae of insects in wood. Having found out a tunnel pierced by beetle larva or other insect, cuscus opens it by several strong bites.
Other feature of this mammal is very long tongue which can extend from a mouth to ten centimeters. The basis of tongue is strongly shifted back - almost to breast bone. On the tip of tongue the cross comb of corneous hooks, which can be shifted relatively to each other a little, grows. Having opened dwelling of insect, drummer cuscus pushes tongue in hole, and hooks larva on by these hooks.
This animal goes to feeding in the evening and at night, and in dawn time it hides in deep tree-trunk hollows or covered bird nests. Drummer cuscus dozes hottest time of day, having covered sensitive eyes by ears and paws. At this time it is enough vulnerable. Day time sleep of animal is sensitive, and, being disturbed, drummer cuscus makes sharp movements by claws of forepaws, trying to strike the enemy by them.
Drummer cuscuses are strictly solitary animals; only the female and her posterity can keep together till some time. At night each animal from time to time reminds to neighbours of its existence, uttering shrill high-frequency squeak. Male searches for female ready to pairing, using such sound and special odorous labels.
The male of drummer cuscus is approximately a quarter lighter, than the female is; besides at him there is darker pattern on skin. Seasonal prevalence in breeding at this animal is not expressed, and at any time of year in wood there are females having posterity at various stages of development. Per one year the female of this species gives rise two times to up to ten cubs, which leave the brooding pouch at the 3-rd month of life. To this moment from pack only two or three cubs survives. Till about one month they move in wood on back of mother, and then start to lead independent life. Young animals reach the sexual maturity at the second year of life. General life expectancy of animals of this species does not exceed 10 years.

The idea about existence of this animal was stated by Simon, the forum member.

Ursine cuscus (Ursiphalanger marsupialis)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Phalangers, or Climbing marsupials (Phalangeridae)

Habitat: New Zealand, flatland and mountain forests of temperate climate.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In different places of the Neocene Earth it is possible to find consequences of human activity. Certainly, these species, as well as its many contemporaries, have left the trace in paleontologic annals of planet. But there is also other trace: results of introducing of various plant and animal species to other habitats where they did not meet and where could not get naturally earlier. The fauna of some places has very seriously suffered from rash installation of new species, especially fauna of the remote islands.
When the human species had disappeared from Earth face, species delivered by it at all did not gather to die out after it. Simply evolution in those places where unbidden visitors have got has gone by other way, rather than before. In fauna of different places species have appeared which never would get there: in Australia various species of camels, in Europe the descendant of raccoon similar to bear have appeared, and isolated from all continents New Zealands only due to activity of people had got ground mammal fauna.
One of the largest Neocenic New Zealand mammals is the marsupial of huge sizes, the ursine cuscus. It is the descendant of fox brush-tailed cuscus (Trichosurus vulpecula), the marsupial mammal, acclimatized in New Zealand approximately in 1900.
The New Zealand ursine cuscus is a huge ground animal weighting up to 300 kgs. It is one of the largest representatives of marsupials of Neocene epoch. The constitution of animal is massive, vaguely similar to ground sloths Megatherium of prehistoric epoch.
The ursine cuscus spends the most part of life on the ground. The tail of its ancestors, wood cuscuses, was any time adapted for branch seizing at climbing, but at the ursine cuscus the tail is strongly reduced: it is short and nonflexible. During walking of animal it serves as the balance weight, counterbalancing the body. In the basis of tail the fat necessary for maintenance of ability to live of an animal is accumulating – in winter the ursine cuscus becomes languid and slightly hibernates This animal clambers on trees seldomly and very clumsily, preferring to food on the ground. Its hind legs are plantigrade; feet are wide, covered with thick layer of cornificate skin: it permits to go easily both on stones heated up by the sun and on ice. The ursine cuscus moves basically walking on two legs but frequently lowers to all four paws, especially if it is feeding on mountain slope.
Wool of animal is thick, grey with black “cross” on back: longitudinal black strip from nape up to middle of tail, and black stain on hips adjoining to it. Throat, chest and stomach are covered with yellowish-white fur, and on the end of tail the black hair brush grows. Due to thick warm wool animal can normally live in mountains where in spring and an autumn there are light frosts frequently.
At the ursine cuscus there is rather massive head with wide flat forehead. In connection with nocturnal habit of life at it there are large eyes “shining” in darkness as it is characteristic at cats. Pupils are vertical, iris of of eyes is chartreuse. Ears are short and pointed. The ursine cuscus badly distinguishes colors. But it perfectly sees in darkness, has good hearing and keen sense of smell with which help correctly finds edible leaves and ripe fruits.
At this animal there are strong jaws, wide molars and large chewing muscles: the significant part of its diet includes young bush sprouts, and also seeds of grasses. Except for them the ursine cuscus eats roots and tubers of plants.
On forepaws of animal hooked claws serving for ground digging and defense against predators grow. The thumb of forepaw is opposed to fingers – it is a heritage of climbing ancestors appeared very useful, increasing dexterity of movements at food getting. On thumb flat nail grows instead of claw.
The ursine cuscus has nocturnal habit of life hiding in bush thickets in the afternoon. In the afternoon the animal is inactive, especially in hot weather. At this time the ursine cuscus alternates feeding with the periods of short deep dream. After day spending of animals there are traces of their activity in bushes: broken off and picked branches, and also small holes in ground where animals had slept. But at night animals leave shelter and wander in wood searching for forage. They mark the route by odorous liquid from the special gland on hip, sniff at marks left by other individuals. With the help of these marks animals learn about health state and physiological condition of neighbours. They do not avoid direct contacts to neighbours: neighbours treat peacefully enough to each other, they are frequently feeding and have a day rest together. The convinced singles among the ursine cuscuses are rarity. Usually ursine cuscuses keep in groups of 3 - 4 adult animals, but structure of these groups is changeable: in the same structure such groups exist maximally some days, and then they break up - some animals leave it, other ones appear. Usually each animal migrates on wide territory, but does not come out of its borders. Borders of the “inhabited world” at different animals are not coinciding to each other.
During winter cold snap ursine cuscus becomes sluggish and temporarily loses desire to travel. Having found suitable place in wood or among rocks, the animal digs out to itself shelter like den, or expands available one. In this shelter the animal makes a litter, and hibernates. It not true hibernation: in this condition the body temperature of the ursine cuscus is reduced only to some degrees, it periodically moves and wakes up for a little time. At the ursine cuscuses living on plains and in woods of the north of New Zealand, winter lasts not for long – sometimes only about two weeks. At the animals living in colder areas, it can be tightened about two months.
Pairing at these animals occurs in an autumn, but the embryo stops in development up to the beginning of winter. In winter the female gives rise up to 3 cubs. The pouch at this species opens forward. Cubs get into it (at this time the female rummages hibernation for a little, cleaning pouch before cub birth) and start to suck milk. They develop about 15 weeks, reaching to this time of the size of kitten. At this age the pouch becomes cramped for them, and they gradually move on back of mother. Keeping by paws for its wool, young cuscuses gradually start to learn the world and to accustom to adult life. Cubs try food eating by mother, study to distinguish other neighbours; sometimes they even play. At the age of about one year, at weight about 60 kg, they begin independent life. This is the most dangerous time for young growth: they not always can expect for protection of adult animals if the predator will attack. Growing up, young animals become capable to protect themselves. The main weapon of the ursine cuscus is sharp claws on forepaws by which the animal inflicts deep wounds to the aggressor.
At the age of four years young animals can bear posterity.

Marsupial grizzly (Gravipossum ursinus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Predatory possums (Carnopossumidae)

Habitat: forests and woodlands of Meganesia, plains of southern part of continent (up to coast of Eyre Gulf) and Great Dividing Ridge.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Holocene Australian marsupials had suffered significant damage from the introduction placentary predators to Australia, and from destruction of megafauna by first aborigenes. At the continental part of Australia marsupial lions (Thylacoleo), marsupial wolves (Thylacinus) and marsupial devils (Sarcophilus) had died out. In historical time the Tasmania Island remained last shelter of marsupial wolf (smaller, rather than its continental species) and marsupial devil (also smaller than species exterminated at the continent). The place of marsupial predators on continent had been actually occupied by people and feral dogs, dingoes. In Neocene when both people, and placentary predators had died out of different reasons, marsupials had started to evolve actively, occupying the exempted ecological niches. Among new marsupial predators of Australia descendants of both “true” predatory marsupials (Dasyuridae), and other animals passed to predating in parallel to them had appeared. In Neocene possums had made the second attempt to become carnivorous creatures (marsupial lion was the first and rather successful attempt). Being not able to compete with dasyurids, carnivorous possums had turned to massive animals, similar to bears by constitution. The size of marsupial grizzly, largest one of them, reaches 3 meters in length at weight about 500 kg.
Marsupial grizzly is one of largest species of marsupial mammals of the world. Longteeth wombats, descendants of Holocene wombats, reach even bigger size, but among possums this species is true giant. Even huge New Zealandian species of possum is much smaller.
Marsupial grizzly is very similar to massive bear with rather short extremities and back curved upwards. At it there are plantigrade extremities armed with sharp claws up to 10 cm long. Being attacked by predator, the marsupial grizzly defends, rearing on hinder legs and delivering crushing blows by front ones. It had not lost the ability to climb on trees though adult animals do it hardly. But young marsupial grizzlies spend a lot of time in crones of trees where they eat foliage and fruits, and ravage bird's nests. Adult animals feed mainly on the ground.
Possums known to people differed in long tails. At marsupial grizzly which spends on trees only small part of life, the tail became short and thick. It has lost past function of the balance weight and the “fifth paw”, and now in it the stock of fat is accumulated, helping to go through fodder shortage.
Head at this marsupial is rather large and massive. Ears of animal are short and round; nose is big and lips are mobile. Eyes of marsupial grizzly are small – the animal is short-sighted, and in search of food bases at sharp sense of smell. Marsupial grizzly has yellowish-grey fur with dark paws and nose bridge. Stomach of animal is white, on back from waist up to the basis of tail narrow black strip stretches. Feet and hands of animal are covered with thick cornificate skin.
Jaws of marsupial grizzly are short and have slightly increased canines and wide molars. Strong chewing muscles help this marsupial to chew fibrous parts of plants and heads of bones of large animals. This species of animals partly plays a role of scavenger in ecosystems of southern and eastern parts of Meganesia. It finds rests of catch of large local predators, and eats them almost completely: after the feast of marsupial grizzly only separate vertebrae and bones of legs remain from carcass of animal. Also it can drive away smaller predators from catch. The males of this species not burdened with cubs bearing can go fishing in shallow rivers and lakes.
Marsupial grizzly is not completely carnivorous species of marsupials: it is omnivore, and whenever possible willingly eats vegetative food. With the help of long claws animal digs out roots of ferns and other eatable plants. It can dig out holes of small animals just as it was done by bears in Holocene epoch. Because this animal is omnivorous, at it the increased intraspecific aggression characteristic for carnivorous species is not shown. Besides females at marsupial grizzly are larger, rather than males, therefore cubs are not threatened with danger of attack from their side while they stay with mother.
Brooding pouch at this species of mammals opens back, and there are four nipples in it. Fertility of the female of marsupial grizzly reaches ten cubs, but only four of them receive an opportunity to survive, and usually two cubs survive up to independence. In the beginning the posterity of marsupial grizzly is “worn” in mother’s brooding pouch over half-year. After that cubs change to back of mother, and keep by paws for her wool. The posterity stays with mother up to one-year-old age, and right when young animals abandon the female, it becomes ready to pairing again.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

At the eastern slope of Great Dividing Ridge, in humid mountain woods the relative of this species, the marsupial panda (Gravipossum paraailuropoda) lives. This species is much smaller, rather than marsupial grizzly: the adult female weighs about 300 kg at length of body up to 2 meters, and the male is 25 – 30 kg lighter. In food predilections marsupial panda differs from marsupial grizzly by appreciable bias in vegetarianism. The food of animal origin amounts a small part of diet – marsupial pandas eat eggs of ground-nesting birds, and willingly consume carrion. Frequently animals search for forage on banks of mountain rivers, feeding on water invertebrates and local migrating fishes of Galaxiiformes order. But the basic food of this animal is made of roots and leaves of grassy plants, and also sprouts of bushes. Living in cool mountain climate, marsupial panda differs in rich wool. At this animal there are black head, shoulders and back, rounded white spots above eyes, grey sides and back part of body. The tail of marsupial panda has snow-white inner side which is used by animals for submission of signals to congeners.
Fertility of marsupial panda is insignificant: the female gives rise to no more than five cubs from which only one or two ones survive up to independence. Life expectancy of this animal reaches 40 years.

Marsupial biruang (Carnopossum heliarctoides)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Predatory possums (Carnopossumidae)

Habitat: mountain and lowland rainforests of north and northeast of Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Neocene Australia and New Guinea had merged to unite land massive named Meganesia. This continent continuously moves to the north, to the equator, “crushing” edges of lithosperic plates of Indonesia. Actually, this circumstance became the reason of raising of northern part of Meganesian lithosperic plate.
Movement of continent has caused the considerable changes in climate of territories included in continent. The northern Meganesia in Neocene is in the area of equatorial climate that has positively had an effect on nature of continent. The north is covered with rich rainforests. And in forest swamps rivers originate and flow to the south and carry water to areas represented rigorous waterless deserts in Holocene.
Rainforests of the north of Meganesia are rich in life. Various birds, reptiles and amphibians, and also unnumerable species of insects live here. Besides, the forest canopy is inhabited by various small and medium-sized mammals, and large species of mammals are found in underbrush. Among them there are descendants both of native Australian and New Guinean species, and descendants of species introduced by people.
Rainforest is a habitat of rather large species of marsupial mammal which is named marsupial biruang. It belongs to group of carnivorous possums classified in family Carnopossumidae. Its close relatives are huge marsupial grizzly living in the south of continent, and marsupial panda – smaller species from mountain areas at the east of the continent. Marsupial biruang is the smallest representative of carnopossumids: weight of adult animal is only about 60 kg. It is the ecological analogue of Malayan bear, or biruang, known in human epoch – hence the name of this species.
Marsupial biruang has robust constitution and rather short limbs. Similarly to all carnopossums, it has very short tail which does not take part in tree-climbing. On paws of animal long hooked claws grow; with their help marsupial biruang easily gets on high trees. Fingers of animal are mobile and permit it to gather very small objects and to catch insects. The wool of this animal has black or dark brown color, and only above eyes there are two light grey spots. At young animals spots above eyes are absent. On hands and feet wool is thin, and through it grey skin of animal is visible.
Eyes of animal are directed forward, and provide enough wide sector of three-dimensional vision. Ears at marsupial biruang are short, rounded, slightly jutting out from wool. At this animal there are rather short muzzle and increased forward cutters. Molars are obtused: their shape is characteristic for omnivores.
Marsupial biruang uses for life all levels of rainforest – from underbrush up to forest canopy at height over 20 meters. This is sluggish single animal marking borders of territory with the help of musky liquid secreted by two glands at the root of tail.
This animal is omnivorous and easily finds enough of food. It eats fruits of various tropical trees, sappy leaves and stalks of epiphytic plants. Also this animal catches large insects and digs out of ground worms and grubs. If the opportunity is represented, marsupial biruang catches little mammals and ravages nests of birds. Any animals from insects and snails up to vertebrates weighting up to 3 – 4 kgs become its prey.
Having caught prey, marsupial biruang perches on wide strong branch of tree, sits on hinder legs and eats food, holding it in forepaws. After meal the animal licks wool by long tongue, and “washes” by forepaws like cat. Marsupial biruang is active in day time, and only in hottest time of day sleeps till some hours, having chosen a shady place.
At this species of marsupials the female is larger and heavier, than the male. Animals do not form constant pairs, and meet only for the period of pairing. The pouch at the female opens forward – when female swarms up a tree, such position of pouch is safer for the large cub. The female bears only 2 – 3 rather large cubs (large to measures of marsupials – newborn marsupial biruang weighs about 10 grammes). Some months later only one cub from the litter usually survives. The female looks after it for a long time: the cub stays in pouch till about seven months. Having left the pouch, it follows the female and learns to search for food till about three – four months. At this time the female can couple with another male and bear new posterity. When the new cub is born and gets into a bag, the female starts to show aggression to the previous cub, and it passes to independent life.
Sexual maturity at marsupial biruang comes at the age of four years, and life expectancy reaches 40 years and more.

The idea about existence of this species of animals was proposed by Simon, the forum member.

Night marsupial lemur (Nyctiphalangeropsis strigops)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Marsupial lemurs (Phalangeropsidae)

Habitat: rain tropical woods of Meganesia.
The canopy of tropical rainforests stretched at height 20 - 40 meters gives a plenty of opportunities for adaptation to various live creatures. Among its inhabitants it is a lot of marsupial mammals. Those species have survived at the border of Holocene and Neocene, have inherited from missed species many free ecological niches, and have occupied them, having evolved to fantastical lifeforms. The competition between inhabitants of rainforest canopy can be very rigid, therefore during evolution live creatures developed to lower it as much as possible. Certainly, it is possible to become the specialized “expert” in consumption of the certain kindss of forage, and it is possible simply to live and not to prevent to another ones. One of animals living in this wood had made it.
When night falls on wood, the majority of wood inhabitants hides in tree-trunk hollows and nests and falls asleep. But some animals just at this time wake up and quicken. Among them there are various insects, frogs, lizards, some birds, and also small mammals covered by black wool with white marks. Their movements are very similar to movements of monkeys; their heads are big, have high cheek-bones and large “owline” eyes. Animals keep in small group, supporting contact with the help of quiet chirp. They are similar to small monkeys, but they are not primates at all, but descendants of cuscuses – night marsupial lemurs.
The night marsupial lemur is insignificant: length of its body is about 20 cm, tail length – about 30 cm. All paws of these small mammals are adapted to branch gripping: on forepaw there is well advanced thumb, and toes on hinder legs are opposed to each other by two groups: joined together I, II and III against joined IV and V. Bent claws grow on ends of fingers and toes. The animal moves on trees like squirrel: it runs on branches and swarms up trunks, clinging by claws against bark. Due to tenacious paws night marsupial the lemur dexterously swarms up the thinest branches. It is able to jump from tree to tree like monkey: having shaken on thin elastic branch, the small mammal makes jump some meters long. During flight in air the mammal stretches paws in sides to glide a little bit and thus to increase range of jump. The prehensile tail increases opportunities of animal: due to it night marsupial lemur can hang on branches.
The nocturnal habit of life is reflected at the appearance of this animal: eyes of the night marsupial lemur are very large, and because of it the obverse part of skull looks rather wide. On muzzle of mammal long whiskers grow with which help the animal finds way in dark night wood. Colouring of wool is coal-black, but for recognition of neighbours at night marsupial lemurs there are contrast marks – white stains on chest and tail tip. Around of animal’s eyes there are rings of white wool because of what this small mammal looks a little horribly: rings create illusion of eyes belonging to larger animal. Eyes of this marsupial lemur are yellowish-brown; pupils are vertical, as at cats. This animal distinguishes colors badly, but it is capable to see world around even at weak light of stars in moonless night.
At night marsupial lemurs there is good hearing, though auricles very short. But the ear aperture at them looks like a crack, and on back edge it is edged by fringe of rigid fur functionally replacing an auricle. Due to sharp hearing the animal can search for insects in darkness, and frequently to it succeeds even to hear flying owl: it is rather useful property for nocturnal animals of small and medium size.
The night marsupial lemur is a sociable animal; it lives in groups of 3 – 5 individuals. All group consists of male and several females, and also of cubs have not reached independence. These animals spend day in tree-trunk hollow on their territory. They know an arrangement of all suitable shelters on their area, and each morning they stay in new one. By this way animals prevent the parasite breeding and hide their resting place from predators.
Night marsupial lemurs wake up, when day time heat falls down, and day time predators search shelter to lodge for a night. Usually dominant male or the main female shows itself first from tree-trunk hollow. The animal cautiously smells air, convincing of safety, and then comes out on the branch. After it other members of group appear. Animals clean wool, stretch, and start to inspect territory. They move on branches in a line, keeping a distance. During the night small mammals become especially cautious: at this time owls fly to hunt. To protect itself against attacks of these birds, night marsupial lemurs choose way in richest branches, and jump from tree to tree one by one, stopping for a little time on trunk after landing. Other enemies of these animals are snakes. The silent rustle similar to sound of the moving snake is the most terrible sound for night marsupial lemurs.
The group marks borders of the territory with the help of secretions of repugnatorial glands located in armpits. For this purpose they simply drag branch between body and paw. All members of group mark territory in same place, but on different branches, therefore smells of separate animals do not mix up also any newcomer can estimate number of animals protecting this territory. However, dominating male will do not be against at all if the newcomer will appear the female. When it is a lot of forage, it can admit to clan even other male, but already beforehand a role of satellite and “whipping boy” will be determined to it, and it will druggle at the end of group. But the solitary animal in almost cases is restrained with such role: it is easier to notice danger together. During the movement group supports contact: animals utter chirp and abrupt sounds similar to bark.
Night marsupial lemurs are omnivorous: they will ravage the bird's nest or will tear off ripe fruits from branch with the same pleasure. In searches of vegetative forage they are guided basically by sense of smell, correctly distinguishing ripest fruits by smell. One more dainty is thick juicy stalks of some orchids. The best food of animal origin includes insects and spiders. If fruit appeared worm-eaten, these mammals will to have eaten it entirely, right including caterpillar. The special dainty is delicate soft termites. At night these blind moisture-loving creatures leave their shelters, and night marsupial lemurs willingly lick them off from bark.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding at night marsupial lemurs is not present: practically at any time it is possible to find groups with cubs. Female twice per one year gives rise to 7 - 8 cubs though it can feed only four ones. The pouch opens back at this species. Cubs spend in it about two months, then they get out on back of mother and travel on it, seizing its wool. This time is the most important for their further life: cubs study to search for food and seize skills of tree-climber. When they wean from dairy diet, their connection with mother weakens. Cubs can get on backs to other members of group though those can be not so pleased with it, and seldomly bear too long driving another's “youngs” on the back.
Sooner or later young animals abandon clan. They go to “neutral” (“drawn”) boundary territories of different clans, and gradually teenage groups break up. Young females more often succeed to join to other clan, and the destiny of males develops more dramatically: at them probability to finish the barchelor life in stomach of the snake or an owl is most of all. Occasionally the young male finds teenage group and expels from it other males, forming a high-grade clan. Being lucky it can “overthrow” the old male and take hold of available clan.
Life expectancy of the night marsupial lemur is short: it seldomly lasts more than 10 years.

Hook-fingered kangaroo (Gravimacropus macrocheirus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Kangaroos (Macropodidae)

Habitat: light forests and bush thickets of Southern, Central and Eastern Australia, foothills of Great Dividing ridge.

Picture by Timothy Donald Morris

During the evolutionary history kangaroes belonged to among the most successful marsupial animals of Australia. They evolved rather quickly, adapting to changes of world around, and in historical epoch competed on equal terms with sheeps and camels introduced by people. In Neocene the significant part of domestic animals introduced by people to Australia, had died out, and only camels evolved to some species adapted to various habitats became real competitors of kangaroes.
Kangaroes had also evolved, and among them various kinds had appeared: some of them eat foliage, others graze, and some ones even eat insects and carrion. Climatic conditions of Neocenic Australia favour to development of large life forms, and among kangaroes one such species had appeared.
The largest kangaroo of Australia is the hook-fingered kangaroo. It is huge species up to 3 meters in height in biped pose. The hook-fingered kangaroo has shape characteristic for representatives of this family, but adjusted for larger size and massive constitution. This animal weighs about 250 - 300 kg, therefore it jumps slowly and hardly, more preferring to move by original slowed down “gallop”, moving alternately pairs of front and hind legs. Forepaws of the hook-fingered kangaroo are adapted to such type of movement: the animal leans on the external side of long hands covered with thick skin, similarly to gorilla. On fingers of this animal thick hooked claws grow. At movement the animal pushes from the ground by tail which is considerably short in comparison with tails of usual species of kangaroes. On the bottom side of tail the cornificated covering, similar to callouses developing on legs of camels, is advanced. But this “callous” does not serve for protection against burns as at camels, but provides the best cohesion with ground at the movement.
Hinder legs of the hook-fingered kangaroo are lengthened: it is a characteristic attribute of all kangaroes. But they are not much longer than forepaws, short of a foot. Foot at this species of kangaroo is long and elastic, and claws are not sharp, but to a greater extent hoof-like and blunt. The hook-fingered kangaroo does not concern to list of fast runners: it prefers to not escape from predators in flight similarly to the majority of its congeners, and to protect itself in close combat. This animal defends against enemies by impacts of forepaws, gashing it by terrible lateral impact strengthened with a turn of all body. This animal counter-attacks large enemies and tries to tear them by claws of hinder legs.
The wool of hook-fingered kangaroo is colored bright - red. Head and forepaws at it are dark, almost black, and hinder legs and the bottom part of tail are lighter, than the basic colouring of body is. On head there is the extensive white “mask” covering muzzle, eyes and a part of bottom jaw.
This animal is original analogue nowadays extinct sharp-clawed perissodactyls chalicotheres (Chalicotheriidae). The hook-fingered kangaroo eats leaves of bushes and trees. Usually it is feeding, standing on hinder legs and tightening tree branch to a mouth by long forepaws. Also it eats soft species of grasses, not competing with other species of kangaroes eating rigid siliceous graminoids.
Chewing muscles are advanced rather poorly at it: the animal chews a little, and the food is processed mainly in the complex stomach consisting of three chambers. Symbiotic protozoans improving quality of food digesting, live in stomach of this species. The feature of physiology of the hook-fingered kangaroo is the ability to make some of metabolic water which is formed at fat oxidation. This adaptation helps this animal to live long time without water: the hook-fingered kangaroo comes to the watering place only once a week, and even less often.
Jaws of hook-fingered kangaroo are short, and the obverse part of skull is short and expanded. Eyes are shifted in sides and provide the good circular field of view. Also at the animal there are wide mobile ears: hearing at the hook-fingered kangaroo is keen. The olfactory cavity also is expanded: therefore the head of animal has no “deer” shape usually characteristic for kangaroes. Wide ears and nasal cavities help large animal to cool itself in strong heat.
This species of kangaroo is solitary animal though it does not avoid a company of congeners. In places rich in forage this species meets by small groups of 4 - 5 adult animals. Usually animals keep together during pairing. The courtship season at this species is strongly dragged out, and females ready to pairing meet the most part of year, except for the droughtiest months. The female ready to get posterity, emits the special smell on which it is found by males. Usually one female is looked after with true “retinue” of males. But one of them shows the greatest activity, driving other ones away. Fights between males are limited to struggle with the help of forepaws. Kicks in stomach of the contender, characteristic for other kangaroes, at this species are excluded: animals are too massive for it.
After short pregnancy the female gives rise to one small cub, which should get into parental pouch itself similarly to posterity of all marsupials. The period of bearing of posterity in pouch at the hook-fingered kangaroo is very long: about half-year the cub constantly sits in pouch, sucking milk, and still almost half-year it is hidden in it at the case of danger. But up to age of fifteen months the cub continues to suck milk of mother though to another nipple its younger brother has already attached. Young animals differ from adults in monotonous colouring of body. It changes approximately to three-year age, and four-year-old animals already can breed. Life expectancy at this species may be over forty years.

The idea of existence of this animal was proposed by Simon, the member of forum.

Monkey wallaby (Pithecomacropus agilis)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Kangaroos (Macropodidae)

Habitat: rainforest of Hawaiian islands (Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahulawi), forest canopy.

Picture by Tim Morris

Kangaroos never lived on Hawaiian Islands, similarly to representatives of other groups of ground and flightless mammal. But in human epoch they have appeared even in this isolated corner of Earth, being introduced there by people. And it was species of mountain wallabies Petrogale penicillata (brush-tailed wallaby) became extremely rare in true native land, in Australia, later. Pair of these animals has run away from a menagerie in the beginning of XX century, and was multiplied on Oahu Island. Decrease of ocean level till an ice age had permitted to this animal to settled on the near islands: Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Kahulawi. Obviously, this moving was unitary: Oahu Island is separated from them by rather deep Kaiwi passage which had kept in ice age, and obviously, it had been crossed casually by a little group of animals – founders of new population. And the further moving of wallabies to the east on islands of the Hawaiian ridge was blocked with Alenuihaha passage separating these islands from Hawaii Island. Therefore moving of descendants of marsupial immigrants on islands is limited to these islands. In the period when the volcanic island Hekeua had been formed, the part of populations of this kangaroos has almost disappeared, having kept in small amount only in rests of woods at coast. But later, due to characteristic for marsupials ability to fast breeding, the population of Hawaiian wallabies was restored. So these marsupials relieved by the nature of competitors, others large mammals, have remained on Hawaii.
The monkey wallaby has considerably changed a habit of life characteristic for ancestors. Now this is a forest animal, something similar to the “true” Holocene tree kangaroos of New Guinea. It is the small species of kangaroos: it is cat-sized animal, but seems larger because of long tail. This animal has found a fine ecological niche in woods and became the largest species of herbivorous animals in rich canopy of the Hawaiian rainforest.
Monkey wallaby dexterously swarms up trees. Joints of back extremities at it are very flexible, and the foot is partly swivels sideways: the animal clasps so a tree trunk more densely. On front and hinder legs hooked claws are advanced. Grown together toes on hinder legs serve for the toilet purposes. This animal clambers on trees “galloping”, working synchronously in pairs by forward and back extremities. Perhaps, the monkey wallaby is unique species among kangaroos, able to move back: this animal goes down from trees a tail first, serially grasping a trunk by front and hind legs. Similarly to monkeys, this animal can make big jumps from tree to tree, and is able to swarm up thin lianas dexterously. If the branch or liana is especially thin, animal is able to move on it similarly to sloth - a back downwards, clinging for a support by bent claws. A tail of this species is thin and long: in length it exceeds body and head taken together. Tail is not prehensile, but elastic: it serves as the balance weight during jumps and movement among branches.
The skull of monkey wallaby is rather short and wide, as gives to this marsupial the “monkey” shape. It is connected to several features of its habit of life. First, the important advantage to this species is the binocular sight assisting to estimate distance up to the next branch precisely. And second, the animal eats rather soft food: fruits and soft leaflets, therefore its jaws became weaker and have decreased in size.
Sight of the monkey wallaby has one feature: the animal can perceive ultra-violet light. Therefore animals of these species easily find among foliage green fruits covered with wax, reflecting this part of solar spectrum. Ears of the monkey wallaby are wide and mobile; animal has very good hearing. Ears are hairless, pink due to blood vessels appearing through skin: in hot weather vessels extend, and surplus of heat is emitting through ears.
Coloring of body of monkey wallaby is disruptive: head is black with longitudinal white strips stretching from nose to ear through eye, on forepaws and shoulders there is light red “cloak”, tail is grey with black tip. Waist and hinder legs are dark brown.
Being similar to monkeys externally, this animal is absolutely not similar to them by habits: monkey wallaby is solitary animal, and two adult animals can be together only in short courtship season. Monkey wallabies are very territorial animals. Each individual occupies territory about a quarter of square kilometer, and marks its borders by urine. This animal does not arrange constants shelters, and spends night in casual refuges. And adult strong animals spend the night even simply on branches.
Two times per one year the female brings posterity: one underdeveloped cub growing in pouch similarly to other species of marsupials. The three-monthly cub starts to get out of pouch, and at the age of four months it leaves mother’s pouch finally. About one month the young animal studies at mother in searches of forage, and then in courtship season she banishes the posterity. Young monkey wallabies begin able to breed at two-year-old age.

Deer wallaby (Neogale sylvanus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupalia)
Family: Kangaroo (Macropodidae)

Habitat: forests in the north and east of Meganesia, undergrowth.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Unlike large marsupials, which became extinct soon after people arrival to Australia and New Guinea, the animals of small and medium sizes were able to adapt successfully to neighbouring humans and introduced placental mammals in Holocene. This trend expressed in many cases not only in Australia, but in the fact that the majority of native mammals belonged to marsupials, that gave a unique identity to the fauna made of descendants of survived species.
Among the marsupial survivors in the era of anthropogenic pressure there were the relatives of larger kangaroos – brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata). Their relatively flexible behavior, small size and wide range of habitats allowed them to outlive not only humans, but also the climatic cataclysms that greatly reduced the species diversity of the larger kangaroos. And the formation of a single continent of Meganesia had opened new ecological niches for development.
Deer wallaby of Neocene is one of the descendants of rock-wallaby. This is quite large animal, growing to sizes of red kangaroos of Holocene – 1-1.6 meters in height (the females are smaller), but much more lightweight, not heavier than 40 kg. Furthermore, when compared with other bipedal marsupials, deer wallaby has very gracile constitution; great part of its body seems to consist of highly elongated hind legs and tail, due to it deer wallaby, it seems, walks “on stilts”.
Despite the long legs, this animal is not very fast and gets tired very quickly during the chase – lung volume does not allow this animal to run for a long time. Therefore, like placental deer and antelopes it has very large ears and eyes, and is constantly on guard. At the slightest danger deer wallaby rushes away and hides in forest thickets: it has spotted coloration like deer of Holocene epoch – white spots on yellowish-brown background – and it is its main mean of defence.
Deer wallabies feed mostly on foliage of trees and shrubs, as well as on berries, flowers, low-growing epiphytes and other herbaceous plants. Their height and the ability to jump permit them even to climb on low trees and to browse their crowns, or to escape from predators. When climbing up a tree, deer wallaby makes vertical jump along the trunk, and at the highest point of the jump it grabs tree with its front paws. Then animal grabs tree with its hind legs and climbs onwards, pushing the tail into the trunk.
Deer wallabies can mate every six months. Like with the other marsupials, the pregnancy is very shortt and the youngs in the pouch also grow quickly. At one year age they are already independent and do not depend on their mothers, and may already have their own offspring. Young animals keep next to the older ones: they live in small herds numbering of 6 to 10 individuals of both genders and all ages. Males, however, usually leave their family upon reaching sexual maturity and go look for a new life companion. These are phlegmatic animals and the fights for females almost never happen. But while establishing relationships of domination, the dominant male of herd may bite the subordinate males in the areas of the scruff and shoulders. It also constantly displays its’ dominance in the group, pushing the subordinate males away from females and food sources. Thus it forces the competitors to leave the herd.
The life expectancy of deer wallaby is 15 – 20 years, but usually less than that.

This species of mammals is discovered by Bhut, the forum member.
Translated by Bhut.

Ostrich kangaroo (Theriostruthio unidactylus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Kangaroos (Macropodidae)

Habitat: grasslands and semideserts of Meganesia.

Picture by Tim Morris

Right after disappearances of mankind Australia represented the continent the most part of which had been occupied with deserts and poor savanna. In Neocene when Australia had merged with New Guinea to unite continent Meganesia, the climate promoted the occurrence of productive savanna. This area is inhabited by large flightless birds and descendants of camels introduced to Australia in ancient historic time, similar to giraffes and antelopes. But representatives of indigenous Australian fauna, marsupial mammals, successfully compete to them. Among them the original species became ecological analogues of antelopes and other quickly running herbivores had evolved.
The extreme degree of specialization to such habit of life is demonstrated by huge descendants of medium-sized wallabies of Holocene epoch, representatives of genus Theriostruthio (literally: “ostrich beast”) for which strongly expressed gracile constitution and ability to high-speed moving on a long distance are characteristic. These animals are a vivid example of convergence with running birds and fossil ostrich dinosaurs (Ornithomimidae).
Ostrich kangaroo is settled at the significant part of Meganesia where savannas were stretched. This animal lives in big herds numbering up to 100 individuals. These animals are constantly in movement, and continuously migrate, not staying at one place for a long time. Only in rain season when the grass plentifully grows, animals do not hurry up to leave rendered habitable places. It is very large species of marsupials – growth of the adult individual standing on rear legs reaches 3 meters, and the length including the tail is up to 4,5 meters.
Ostrich kangaroos strongly differ from species known in human epoch. At them there are very long and rather thin extremities. On hind legs of these animals there is only one middle toe with wide blunt claw similar to horse hoof. It is an attribute of quickly moving animal: usual speed of ostrich kangaroo makes 45 – 50 kms per hour, and animals pursued by predator accelerate momentum up to 80 - 90 kms per hour. These animals perfectly move on firm ground, but are compelled to avoid areas with soft and sandy ground.
Forepaws of this animal are approximately one third shorter, than back ones, and on them only three fingers with thick dulled claws remained. They are mobile enough to permit the animal to make some actions with their help. With the help of these fingers the female of ostrich kangaroo clears the pouch before the cub birth. Also ostrich kangaroos are able to break off tops of grasses by forepaws and to eat them, holding body in vertical position. Such pose is very characteristic for these animals: from height of the growth ostrich kangaroos easily notice predators.
Neck of this animal is longer and more mobile, than at usual kangaroos. If grass is short and thin, ostrich kangaroos can graze, moving on four limbs by slow “gallop” characteristic for kangaroos (ostrich kangaroos are not able to walk). Thus they graze grass by mouth.
The diet of ostrich kangaroos includes rigid and dry grasses, and also plants which can be inedible for the camelopes. In connection with such food jaws of ostrich kangaroos are short (their muzzle is similar to muzzle of large fossil kangaroo Procoptodon), and teeth have folded enamel and are adapted for masticating of highly abrasive food. Besides they accrue for rather long time, before their roots will be formed finally. It helps to compensate deterioration as a result of feeding on rigid vegetative food. Muzzle of ostrich kangaroos is wide and short, with strong chewing muscles. Its outlines are especially emphasized by large auricles. Such auricles are necessary for more effective heat emitting – ostrich kangaroos inhabit hot and dry areas of Meganesia. They can not drink for a long time, being content with metabolic water which turns out at oxidation of food and fat.
Wool of ostrich kangaroos is short and velvety, colored in light shades – at different individuals it varies from yellow up to almost snow-white and light grey. Light color of wool rescues animals from overheating – in places of their inhabiting it is almost impossible to find trees giving enough shadow.
Each year at the female of ostrich kangaroo only one cub is born. It comes into the world small and underdeveloped, and independently creeps to the pouch of mother. In pouch it attaches by mouth to the nipple and within several months almost continuously sucks milk. The eight-monthly cub ventures to leave the pouch for the first time, but at first attribute of danger it hides in it again though it is rather difficult for it to make it with its long legs. Gradually young animal starts to explore the world around, and passes to adult diet. At the age of fourteen months the young animal finally abandons the parent pouch and does not suck milk any more. The three-year animal already almost grows till the size of adult individuals, and at the age of five years ostrich kangaroos become able to breeding. Life expectancy of this animal reaches 40 years and more.
In territory of Meganesia more some species of ostrich kangaroos still:
Dwarf ostrich kangaroo (Theriostruthio nanus) lives in the strip of dry savannas and semideserts to the west of Eyre Gulf. Its length does not exceed 150 cm including the tail, and growth of sitting animal is no higher than one meter. On the body of this animal there is a pale pattern of dense vertical strips which pass to more contrast cross-striped pattern on tail and rear legs. Such colouring of wool appears fine masking at life in high grass. This species differs in high speed – at the short distances dwarf ostrich kangaroo can reach the speed of more than 80 kms per hour. The female of this species can bring posterity two times per one year – in spring and autumn. This animal grazes on four legs only in thin and short grass. Usually dwarf ostrich kangaroos eat, biting off tops of high grasses during the movement.
Striped ostrich kangaroo (Theriostruthio zebratus) lives in rather damp district – in bushy savanna at the western coast of Eyre Gulf. It differs from common ostrich kangaroo in considerably smaller size (length of body is up to 3 meters) and darker colouring. On yellowish-brown skin of this animal brown vertical strips stretch. Due to such colouring grazed animals are poorly appreciable among grass and in light forest. These animals have also special feature of behaviour – during movement each animal from time to time makes almost vertical jumps of height up to 4 meters.
Forest ostrich kangaroo (Theriostruthio sylvestris) has the same size, as the previous species. It lives in light forests growing in river valleys at the east of Meganesia. Jaws of this animal are weaker and lengthened more, than at common ostrich kangaroo. It is connected to a diet of this animal – it eats leaves of undersized trees and bushes, and also large grasses. The body of this kangaroo has spotty colouring – reddish-brown with vertical white strips on back and shoulders. Also the throat and bottom part of head have white colouring. Ears of this animal are rounded and have smaller size, rather than at species living in plain district.

Mirriuula (Diablowallabia camelophoneus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Kangaroos (Macropodidae)
Habitat: Meganesia, mountains in the east, to the south up to Flinders Range; forests and bush.

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

The majority of kangaroo species represents herbivores of plains, bush and mountains. But it is not only ecological niche which these animals could occupy. The species of carnivorous kangaroo rats Ekaltadeta ima weight about 15 kgs, and also one more predatory kangaroo, Propleopus oscillans lived in the past in territory of Australia. In human epoch some wallabies differed in propensity to zoophagy. After extinction of placentary predators because of epizooties various species of marsupials occupied an ecological niche of carnivores during Neocene with different degrees of success. The small naked-breasted kangaroo, scavenger kangaroo rat (Harpotorous microraptor), lives in semideserts of Meganesia, eating carrion and the rests of prey of large predatory reptiles. The result of other attempt of kangaroos to develop predatoriness is mirriuula, the descendant of mountain wallaby (Petrogale) living in mountain areas of Meganesia.
Mirriuula is named after mythical demonic dog from folklore of Australian aborigenes, and quite justifies this name. It is a furious kangaroo weighting about 100 kgs, with flexible torso and long fluffy tail serving for balance. It is a predator eating birds, herbivorous kangaroos and mountain camelopes.
Mirriuula is not too similar to usual kangaroos by its constitution. It has rather short hind legs, and rather seldom rears on them. The mode of its movement is galloping jumping and true gallop. Mirriuula moves only on hind legs very seldom – usually it does it, attacking prey. At this time its forepaws are free, and mirriuula seizes prey by them. Mirriuula can run quickly both on short, and on long distances, but on open district or in foothills it frequently conflicts with other marsupial predators. But in mountains this species is out of competition. It gets big advantage in hilly terrain over marsupial jaguar and marsupial panther, surpassing them in dexterity. Besides these predators are more heat-loving and prefer not to come into mountains. And mirriuula is able to chase prey on hillsides; it arranges ambushes on tracks and frequently hunts in mountain forests and among thickets of undersized eucalypti. Colouring of wool of the mirriuula helps it to remain unnoticed. The basic background of colouring is brownish-grey, darker on head and paws. Tail is light grey, and its tip is almost white. On back of animal there are some longitudinal lines of dark spots.
Having long and strong limbs and hard bent claws, mirriuula can easily catch up and kill the goat-sized prey. It snatches on prey and brings it down on the ground with the help of strong forepaws, and then tears its throat by long pointed incisors slightly directed forward and closed, as a nipper. With the help of incisors this predator can easily bite through neck of prey. In strong jaws cutting molars with jagged edge and peaked molars easily cracking bones and tearing meat from them grow.
The muzzle of animal resembles cat's one a little – it is short and high, with large mobile ears. In nasal cavity of animal the olfactory epithelium forms many plicas; therefore sense of smell of this animal is very keen.
This is solitary animal strictly protecting its territory. At the territory of mirriuula there are some shelters, one of which is used constantly, and others are temporary; animal spends night in them, when eats large prey left near them.
At the territory of Meganesia smaller relative of mirriuula lives – fox wallaby (Diablowallabia omnivorodentus). This species inhabits plains overgrown with high grass, where it builds shelter representing deep hole. It hunts or traps in ambush small vertebrates, eats insects, digs out grubs, nutritious stalks and tubers of plants. It can run very quickly – as quickly, as its large relative. This animal has larger ears resembling ears of fennec fox – it is the adaptation for heat emitting. The wool of fox wallaby is colored yellowish-grey with several longitudinal lines of brown spots.

These species of animals were discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Bladdernose Kangaroo (Rhinoroo desertus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Trunked Kangaroos (Nasalotheriidae)

Habitat: Desert of western Meganesia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Australia is characterised in the age of man by arid deserts, this was not always typical of Australia. In the Neocene, Meganesia has parts that are similarly desrtified, and creatures living there have unique adaptations. The Bladdernose Kangaroo is a very distinctive form, seemingly comical in appearance, with swollen red nose.
This kangaroo is small at 20-25 Kilograms, and reaching a height of 70 centimeters at the hips. It’s sleek fur is a dusty cream colour with white underparts, this helps to keep the animal from overheating. Certain areas of high bloodlflow, thighs, and chest are bald and pinkish for heat dissipation, which can be licked to aid cooling. It has powerful forelimbs that are long, with large hands for grasping food, and its hindlimbs are about half again as long, with long feet. This kangaroo typically moves on all fours when foraging, but is able to hop at high speeds to escape danger. It has a short-compact torso, and a short neck ending in a large head, and a long tail.
The head is short and blocky, and the snout is a large inflatable sac that is round and swollen (by this feature it resembles saiga or hooded seal). This sac is infused with blood-vessels, and helps to cool the animal as it breathes, it can be flushed with blood, as can other bald spots, to help the animal cool. This sac is also a resonating chamber for producing loud calls, and can be inflated during the mating display. Call is typically short and loud nasal bark, but breeding calls are very loud prolonged roar.
Bladdernose Kangaroo feeds on desert herbs, grasses and flowers, as well as digging up roots and tubers and eating small desert fruits, it is completely herbivorous.
Breeding season is always during high productivity and rainfall, normally in the winter or spring. Males produce loud roaring calls to attract females, males generally have their own territory in which to attract a harem. Females congregate with males producing loudest call. During mating ritual, male inflates nasal sack considerably, resmbling baloon. During this display the sack is bright pink from circulation.
Female produces one cub that becomes mobile during the flush of spring growth, and suckles for 3 months. Lifespan is typically 20-30 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Forest Probo (Probosciroo sylvanus)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Trunked Kangaroos (Nasalotheriidae)

Habitat: Rainforests and Woods of northern Meganesia
During the age of man, kangaroos remained successful despite human influence.
With the extinction of mankind and the advent of the neocene, kangaroos competed successfully with the surviving introduced domestic herbivores. Camels produced numerous forms, and pigs became more specialised towards herbivory. Eventually, kangaroos produced omnivorous and carnivorous forms, which competed sucessfully with their placental counterparts.
The Forest Probo is descended from small omnivorous rat-kangaroos of the human age, such creatures were successful foragers. This animal has become much larger than it’s ancestor, becoming as heavy as a medium sized pig, at 40-60 kilograms.
It is 1.4 meters tall at the hips, and is usually bent over close to the ground to forage. It has a thickset body and a long tail; colored blackish brown with creamy underparts and a white dorsal stripe, fur is coarse generally. The forelimbs are long and powerfully built with large claws for digging, hind legs are only slightly longer with pointed claws, it moves mainly on all fours, only hopping when it needs to move quickly.
Its head is long-snouted, with a large thick horny pad on the upper side for digging with, its ears are long. The nose terminates in a moveable proboscis 20 centimetres long that has a flattened knob at its tip; this knob is very sensitive and can be used to pass food to the mouth.
This creature constantly forages in the leaf litter, moving earth with its snout similarly to a pig, but with the addition of a manipulative trunk.
When heavily pushing earth with it's nasal pad, it tucks it's trunk close to its mouth, however, the trunk can also move litter and overturn small stones. More extensive digging can be done with the claws.
The diet of this animal is as varied as that of a swine, fruit, roots, seeds, buds and shoots are consumed, and the animal voraciously raids nests of ground birds. Also small vertebrates, any insect or grub, and some carrion. It’s teeth have large cusps for crushing, and the premolars have a large shearing edge for cutting.
Animal vocalises with nasal squeals and coughs produced by trunk.
It is generally solitary, but mates all year long, to take advantage of any fortuitous encounters with the opposite sex. The female has a distinct musky aroma to alert potential suitors. The mating ritual consists of mock fighting and kicking up wood litter by paws. Female produces one cub, which crawls from the cloaca to the pouch. Babies leave the pouch by 3 months, but still use it for safety, and weans by 8 months, during which a new cub will be developing.
Young are colored more pale than their parents, but the colors become dark by one year of age. Lifespan is generally 25-30 years.
Similar relative, the Bush Probo (Probosciroo porcinus) is found in the forest and bush of southeastern Meganesia, including the mountain forests of the Great Dividing Range and the forested Murray River valleys. Differs mainly by longer legs, and lighter, dark grey coloration, the proboscis is shorter and possesses a square tip. Diet is more tolerant to dry, tough forage such as twigs.

This species of mammals was discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Long Snouted Kangaroo (Dolichoops nasalis)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Trunked Kangaroos (Nasalotheriidae)

Habitat: savannah and semidesert of central Meganesia
Occasionally during evolution in any animal group, new features distinguish an animal group, becoming a new taxonomic grouping. The Trunked kangaroo group has produced many different forms during the neocene. Evolution has been versatile, with large omnivorous forms and also numerous herbivores. Example is the long-snouted kangaroo.
This kangaroo is moderate in size, being 1 meter tall and weighing 30 kilograms.
This animal is sandy colored with soft, smooth fur, dusty white underparts and a black dorsal stripe, the hands, feet and face are pale. Its forelimbs are long and powerful, with bald patches along the inside which it licks to keep cool; the paws are large and have long claws for digging. The tail is long and its hindlimbs are of medium length, with long feet.
Ears are large, almost like a rabbit, and the head is long and low, recalling a horse.
There is a well developed muscular upper lip and nose which forms a swelling, this is very flexible and comes to a rounded tip, like a horse. The nasal cavity is enlarged, and the nostrils can be closed.
This animal feeds on roots, tubers, some grasses, herbs, and soft foliage, but will also eat insects. It forages bent over, close to the ground, moving generally by a slow bounding motion on all fours. It stands up periodically to sense any danger, but large ears and sensitive nose constantly provide early warning system while foraging. When forced to flee, it can either bound like a rabbit, or at higher speeds hop very quickly. These animals are generally found in small groups of 2 or three, which grow in number when breeding.
Mating occures in spring and winter, during higher producticity and rainfall. Males will fight over females using clawed hands and kicking feet. Females produce one cub which comes about in the typical marsupial fashion. Able to leave the pouch at 4 months, but will continue to use it as refuge, and to suckle, until 1 year, when another cub will have started to grow and suckle on the second teat.
Vocalisations are nasal cough or loud resonant sneeze. Lifespan is typically 30-35 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Elephant-Kangaroo (Marsupielephas proboscoides)
Order: Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Family: Trunk Kangaroos (Nasalotheriidae)

Habitat: tropical rainforest and gallery forest of Northern Meganesia, occasionally ranges into bushland or treed savannah.

Picture by Amplion

Evolution is characterized during stages of disaster by a rapid increase in size in a recovering ecosystem. Primitive hoofed animals quickly became as large as bears after the extinction of the dinosaurs, reptiles became as large as crocodiles quickly after the Permian extinction, and modern animals quickly became larger in the abscence of competitors, see the feral cats of anthropocene Australia. And thus, the evolution of the trunk kangaroos in the early Neocene is characterized by the Elephant Kangaroo. Most trunked kangaroos are relatively small or medium-sized, but the bountiful jungle of northern Meganesia provided an opportunity for a giant of the group.
Unlike its relatives, it is a leaf eater, reaching high into the trees to gather food. The teeth are high crowned and ridged, like those of a tapir or the extinct deinothere. 80 percent of its diet is leaves and bark, 10 percent is fruit, and the other 10 percent is rare animal forage. It will still eat animal matter on occasion like its ancestors. Still having a slicing premolar, it will rarely consume the eggs of ground birds, eat large beetles or stick insects, and scavenge flesh from the kills of marsupial panthers and the yagil. It has been known to eat ejected pouch young from the ground.
This creature by far surpasses any present kangaroo in size and stature, weighing up to 800 kilograms. It is no longer able to hop, it can only bound slowly and clumsily, recalling dinosaur. Its head is of medium length, deep and massive, with a relatively long snout, ending in a trunk that is 1.3 meters long. Its pelage is made of short, woolly hair. Its color recalls the Malayan tapir, with a large white saddle on a black background, it also a white facial “mask” and a white dorsal stripe, characteristic of its group, with white “socks” on hands and feet. Its arms are somewhat like that of a ground sloth, only less thick-boned, the claws are very long for pulling down branches, the longest claw is 20cm long. It has a fairly long, barrel chest and a short “humped” neck with thick shoulders. With wide hips and massive legs it can carry large, well developed joeys, its thigh is still relatively long, but its foot is short and flat, with massive “hooved” toes. The tail is fairly long and thick, with a white tip. By many features it is analogous the the long extinct Palorchestes, including a long, elephant-like trunk. It stands 2 meters tall at rest, which is bent forward. At a rearing height, it reaches 4 meters from the head to the ground, but due to its proboscis it can reach even higher. The trunk ends in a “finger”, not unlike those of the elephant of human era.
The mating season falls at the start of monsoon season, when they migrate to upland areas or clearings to court. The males make characteristic braying and trumpeting noises, accompanied by deep grunts and clicks, to attract a harem of females. If a dispute breaks out between males, it is settled by displays of physical strength, pulling down branches and biting them apart, throwing them away. Males do not risk physical harm due to their long sensitive noses. Babies are born at the end of the monsoon season, allowing enough time to develop into large joeys the size of small children. They defend their young viciously, lashing out with the forelimbs and biting, as they will also defend themselves alone using this method. The legs are too degenerate for large kicks.
Lifespan can reach 20-40 years, large adults have no predators except in times of drought when marsupial panther can hunt cooperatively.

This mammal species was discovered by Timothy Donald Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Nagual (Tatu nagual)
Order: Edentates (Edentata)
Family: Armadilloes (Dasypodidae)

Habitat: North America, the south of prairies and the north of Mexican Desert.

Picture by Simon

Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) alongside with opossum (Didelphis) and American porcupines (Erethizon) was one of the most successful descendants of South American fauna settled to the north in time of “Great Interchange” in Plio-Pleistocene. In human epoch this species had overcome Mexican plateau and was settled rather far to the north, having successfully mastered the south of the United States of America. During the ice age at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene armadilloes among other thermophilic animals had receded to the south, but with the subsequent warming they have returned to former positions again.
Nagual, the large species of armadilloes, lives at the southern border of prairies where the grassy vegetation is gradually replaced by water-stocking succulents and deciduous prickly bushes. It is large enough representative of family: its length is about 130 cm, and weight reaches 100 kg and more. The big size of animal is one of ways of survival in desert: the large animal has the big stocks of water in organism, and the strong armour protects not only from enemies, but also from the hot sun. At the north of the area nagual leads a day time habit of life, but at the south, in deserts of Mexico, activity is displaced to night time. It is also a way to avoid overheat and losses of water.
The armour of animal consists of two strong plates – forward and back ones – and between them some belts of cornificated skin with elastic sites between them are located. Under armour there is a layer of fat which is the heat insulator. As against the ancestor, nagual is not able to turn off in ball. Being attacked by predator, animal simply lays on the ground, having turned up under armour head and thick short tail. Because of large weight it is difficult to turn it, but if predator manages to do it, animal protects itself, sharply waving forepaws armed with sharp claws. The bottom part of animal body is covered with rough yellowish wool. Armour is colored bright yellow with grayish shade.
The head of animal is covered with strong corneous plate with skin ossifications which jut out on plate surface like rounded outgrowths. Eyes are small – nagual has bad sense of sight. Animal has mobile rounded ears which are penetrated with blood vessels and partly help to radiate the surplus of heat. Muzzle of nagual is short and triangular; teeth are numerous and have sharp cutting edge. They are closed in such a manner that edges of upper and lower teeth are constantly erased against each other. On teeth of upper jaw cutting edge is external, on lower jaw internal. Despite of size and slowness nagual is zoophagous species. It willingly eats carrion searching it by smell. Nagual is frequently fed with the rests of prey of local predators. Due to massive armour this animal does not pay attention to attempts of predator to protect the prey. Furthermore nagual eats medium-sized vertebrates and occasionally feeds on underground and sapful parts of plants, especially during the drought season.
Forepaws of nagual are perfectly adapted to digging. The third and fourth fingers are armed with huge claws – about 7 cm thick and up to 18 – 20 cm long. On scapulae ledges and crests to which strong muscles attach are advanced. Nagual easily moves the stones comparable in weight to the animal and can dig and throw out on ground surface up to half of cubic metre of the ground in some minutes. Defending itself against enemies, the animal drops to the ground and sticks claws into it deeply. In that case it is very difficult to turn nagual upside down. But if the predator had made it, the animal defends, making sharp attacks by claws. If it succeeds to grasp a predator, this armadillo seizes it in death grip and can easily strangle it or break its ribs. Therefore, when nagual appears near prey, lucky hunters prefer not to pay attention to this one.
The sexual dimorphism at this species is not expressed. Pregnancy is long because of latent stage: it proceeds till about 11 months, and cubs always are born in favorable season. Up to 10 cubs may be born; they have the same gender because develop from one initial ovocyte. Newborn armadilloes have opened eyes and are covered with soft leathery armour. In some hours after birth they are already capable to walk, and in same time the armour hardens quickly. Young animals remain with mother within 8 months. They reach sexual maturity in 4 years.

The idea about existence of this species of mammals is proposed by Nick, the forum member.

Aquatic armadillo (Hydrotatu potamophilus)
Order: Edentates (Edentata)
Family: Armadilloes (Dasypodidae)

Habitat: southern coast of North America: Florida, deltas of rivers at the coast of gulf of Mexico.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Armadilloes were one of groups of South American mammals managed to overcome isthmus of Panama and colonized North America successfully. In human epoch nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) had moved far to the north, having overcome Mexican plateau, and had settled in southern extremities of North American prairies. In ice age armadilloes had been thrusted back far to the south, and along coast of gulf of Mexico only tiny relic populations of these animals remained. In such populations speciation and accumulation of new features passed roughly, and at the ending of ice age the southern part of North America had been inhabited with some species of armadilloes differing in shape and in habit of life. Some of them had died out subsequently, and others managed to fix in habitats for a long time, and their descendants make a part of Neocene fauna of North America.
In tropical areas of North America where various freshwater reservoirs are present, one species of armadillos lives, which had mastered a habit of life unusual to these animals – the aquatic armadillo. This animal is about half meter long including tail. By its shape it differs from other armadilloes only a little – its body on back and sides is covered with armour divided to thoracal and lumbar shields. Between them some (usually 6 to 8) narrow belts lay, permitting a body of animal to be bent. The armour of this animal, however, is much thinner, rather than at ground species. Tail of aquatic armadillo is of oval outlines, short and wide. Head from above is covered with corneous plate. Bottom part of body is covered with thin rough wool. This animal has dark colouring – reddish-brown with lighter edges of thoracal and lumbar shields.
Paws of aquatic armadillo are perfectly adapted to movement on fenny ground – between fingers and toes there are skin crosspieces increasing the support area and interfering with immersing of animal in marsh; also it helps in swimming. On forepaws strong claws are advanced. They are rather thinner, than at ground species which should dig firm deserted ground. With the help of claws aquatic armadillo digs from silt rhizomes and tubers of water plants making a part of its diet and also digs holes in riverbanks and among roots of trees.
Ears of this animal are short and mobile. In the basis of ear there is a skin valve which closes ear duct when animal dives. Aquatic armadillo orientates itself under water freely with the help of sight – it has rather large eyes. But in muddy water it orientates itself and searches for a forage by means of touch: it also has mobile lengthened snout richly supplied with receptors. By means of snout it finds out food of animal origin – worms, crayfishes, snails and larvae of insects. Animal and vegetative food in its diet is present approximately fifty-fifty.
Aquatic armadillo is active mainly in twilight, in the morning and in the evening. In hottest time of day it falls asleep in the hole dug out in a place where danger to be flooded at rising of water lavel to be minimal. This is very mobile animal able to run fast in underbrush or among thickets of reed in case of need. It is good swimmer due to the layer of hypodermic fat which serves as a float, and dives without any efforts due to rather big density. This armadillo can stay under water till about five minutes.
Breeding of this mammal is not dated for the certain season – the posterity of this species may be observed in nature the year round, and the female can bring posterity up to two times for one year. After the pregnancy continuing about three months, the female gives rise to from four up to six cubs – they always are enzygotic twins. They are advanced well enough and at one week age they do not concede to adult individuals in swimming ability. Young animals can only dive no longer than for one minute. They remain with mother till about five weeks and then start to lead independent life. Because of too short intestines the young growth eats food of animal origin mainly. At the age of 16 months young animals become sexually mature; life expectancy is about 10 – 12 years.

Digging armadillo (Postpichisiego trachycephalus)
Order: Edentates (Edentata)
Family: Digging armadilloes (Armotalpidae)

Habitat: South America, pampas and light forests from warm temperate up to tropical zone.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In human epoch in South America mammals constantly leading digging habit of life (the analogues of moles of Holarctic region) were absent. At the same time in territory of this continent there were many kinds of burrowing rodents and armadilloes. Fairy armadillo (Chlamydophorus truncatus), or pichisiego died out in human epoch had led the way of life closest to moles.
In Neocene of South America armadilloes had taken a significant place in fauna. They successfully compete to rodents, and one species became a large scavenger. Among Neocene armadilloes one species which conducts practically completely underground way of life had evolved. This small animal is named digging armadillo.
Digging armadillo is deeply adapted to a underground habit of life. The body of animal is about 25 cm long. It has almost cylindrical shape and is covered with strong armour. In the middle of trunk the armour of animal forms five belts connected by elastic skin. These belts allow digging armadillo to turn off in ball and to turn round in its own tunnels. Tail of this animal is short and wide in the basis and has triangular outlines. Edges of corneous belts of tail form thick strong prickles. Resting them in floor and walls of hole, animal provides a reliable support at digging to itself.
At this animal there are short limbs. Hinder legs of digging armadillo are rather weak and three-toed. Forepaws are wide and muscled, armed with three huge claws (the largest claw on middle finger reaches length of 4 cm, claws on third finger and forefinger are shorter). During the digging animal supports on prickles on edges of tail, and rakes ground out by claws of forepaws. Friable ground is raked back by hind legs. When the rather large amount of it is gathered, digging armadillo turns tail under stomach, and moves back, pushing ground to the exit of hole. On the ground surface this animal is very cautious, and the predator practically can not creep to it imperceptibly. Digging armadillo feels keenly vibrations of ground, and feels approaching of large animals how they will see it.
Digging armadillo is practically blind. Its eyes are shifted in the bottom part of head and are very small. In them there is no crystalline lens, and the animal can distinguish light from darkness only. The head of digging armadillo is covered with thick corneous plate in which basis thick skull bones lay. Ears of animal are very short, protected from ground by rigid bristles. The forepart of muzzle is protected by “visor” of corneous plate, and nostrils are supplied with muscles permitting them to close. At digging of friable and dry ground animal can hold the breath till 1 – 2 minutes. Due to such features of anatomy the animal is able not only to dig tunnels but also to swim. Digging armadillo can successfully swim across small rivers, being guided on smell of air above water. During the swimming it rows by forepaws, and turns rear legs in sides, and they serve for balance.
Digging armadillo eats various ground invertebrates, but the vegetative food – roots and tubers – makes about 20 % of its diet. This animal prefers to settle in areas with small amount of wood vegetation. Digging armadillo often builds the common systems of holes with some local rodents, but such neighbourhood not always passes without conflicts – digging armadilloes willingly eat newborn rodents.
In southern regions of area this animal runs into not deep winter dormation, does not dig new tunnels and does not leave on ground surface.
In the beginning of spring at digging armadilloes the courtship season begins. Male is larger, than female, and behaves more aggressively. It searches in tunnels of females ready to breeding, pairs with them and does not accept participation in care of posterity any more. In 7 weeks after pairing in deep hole the female gives rise to posterity – 4 cubs which always are enzygotic twins. While they are small, the female often comes back to feed them, but since the third week of life cubs can follow freely the female in tunnels and gradually pass to diet of adult animals. They become sexually mature at the age of half-year.

Tiny shrew-like hedgehog (Microerinaceus minutissimus)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae)

Habitat: New Zealand, woods in foothills.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

From the beginning in New Zealand there were no small ground mammals – islands were separated from the common body of southern supercontinent Gondwana too early. Therefore in absence of competition one local New Zealand bat, Mystacina tuberculata, which had adapted to partly terrestrial habit of life, replaced them. Introducing of mammals by people had radically changed the situation and had changed the direction of evolution of local species of animals. Among the introduced species of mammals there were hoofed mammals, predators and marsupials. From the group of insectivorous mammals the European hedgehog had got to islands. It had easily accustomed in new place of inhabiting, and its descendants had equally easily outlived humans.
The Neocenic descendant of hedgehog, tiny shrew-like hedgehog has occupied the ecological niche of small insectivorous animals, finally having superseded bats from it. This creature is the tiny mammal similar to shrew in size and habits. At it needles characteristic for hedgehogs are reduced and have remained only on head, and grow as the longitudinal strip on back. It is connected to change of way of life: the former sluggish creature has turned in fast small mammal scurrying among bushes and grasses; speed has replaced to it passive protection with the help of needles. But in behaviour of shrew-like hedgehog nevertheless there are the features inherited from an ancestor and connected with ability to be self-protected by means of needles. Tiny shrew-like hedgehog is rather aggressive, despite of small size. At the attack of predator even if it is much larger than this mammal, shrew-like hedgehog is protected actively. It bites the enemy by peaked needle-like teeth, runs into it and tries to strike bristling needles growing on head.
Shrew-like hedgehog is colored very contrastly. Its needles are colored white, and wool on body is black – it is warning colouring which is perceived even by animals lack of color sight. Being protected from the enemy, the animal utters shrill peep (almost ultrasound) which is not loved by many animals with keen hearing. Therefore birds and mammals usually avoid to attack tiny shrew-like hedgehog, and kill it casually in small amount. One of main enemies of this animal is large New Zealand mouse-eating gekko, the large lizard living in wood litter and hunting from ambush.
Tiny shrew-like hedgehog is solitary territorial species. The individual site is carefully marked by musk substance which is secreting from glands located near the anal aperture. This animal is active in twilight and at night though separate animals hunt in the afternoon, especially in shady cool woods. Males and not sexual matured females do not arrange constant shelters and spend day in temporary refuges. Only the pregnant female arranges a constant nest in bush: she digs out a hole up to half meter deep, or occupies another's one. The entrance in hole is disguised and protected by branches.
Occasionally shrew-like hedgehogs get in holes of castle rabbits – herbivorous animals, settling in big colonies. In holes these small mammals eat various insects, and sometimes attack newborn rabbit cubs. But such cases are casual, and take place only in weak colonies, where there are few adult animals.
This animal is carnivorous, and also eats only insects and other small invertebrates. Shrew-like hedgehog has inherited from ancestor exclusive resistance to poisons; therefore it frequently attacks even on poisonous centipeds and eats them without harm for itself. It bites such dangerous animals in head to kill on the spot. Frequently shrew-like hedgehog attacks lizards twice heavier, rather than itself. In this case it carries off catch in bushes (despite of small size, it is very strong) and stays near the catch, yet will to have eaten it completely. Rate of metabolism at tiny warm-blooded animal is very high; therefore shrew-like hedgehog is compelled to eat almost constantly, with small breaks on. For day it eats the amount of food one and half times more, than it weighs.
This animal lives a little and very quickly. The female matures at the age of about two months. After pregnancy, which lasts about 12 days, she gives rise to 5 – 8 tiny, blind, helpless cubs. They completely develop at fortnight age, and three-week old mammals already lead independent life. Bringing up posterity, the female is strongly exhausted. In one month after the posterity has abandoned the female, she restores the physical condition and is ready to pairing again.
The close species, mountain shrew-like hedgehog (Microerinaceus montanophilus), lives in mountains of New Zealand. It is larger (rat-sized) and more aggressive species of mammals. Needles on its head are reduced, but on back there is a crest of firm cross-striped needles. At danger it rears needles and stirs them up, turning to the opponent sideways. This species also leads solitary way of life and is a predator. It frequently attacks lizards and small mammals.

Azorean tree hedgehog (Dendrogalerix scandens)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae)

Habitat: New Azora, lowland and mountain woods.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Usually island ecosystems differ in poverty in comparison with continental ones. Few species can get on islands and survive in conditions of isolation. Island ecosystems differ in vulnerability, and strongly suffer from introduction of new species. Newly appeared species change a course of evolution of other inhabitants of ecosystem because actually they are the new factor of environment for native ones. But the introduced species change not less, than others, having got in new conditions.
On New Azora Island the majority of mammalian species is descendants of species introduced by people. The special species of insectivores, the Azorean tree hedgehog – belongs to them. It is tree-climbing species of animals, the descendant of European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) introduced in historical epoch. Earlier unite species had given two branches of descendants. The massive line of ground animals is presented by large azogalerix, and small descendants of European hedgehog turned to tree-climbing species.
Change of way of life had resulted in strongly expressed difference of new species from ancestor in constitution and behaviour. Azorean tree hedgehog is not able to turn in ball, and the hypodermic muscles characteristic for ancestor became very weak at it. The body of this animal is still covered with the pointed spikes serving for self-defense. In case of danger the animal nestles against bark of tree and exposes towards to the enemy spikes which can rise and fall with the help of special muscles in the basis of each spike.
In connection with tree-climbing habit of life at this animal there are relatively larger paws, than at ground hedgehog. Azorean tree hedgehog dexterously and quickly swarms up trees, and confidently keeps even on vertical surface of tree trunk. Fingers at Azorean tree hedgehog are more mobile; with their help animal can cling even to thin twigs. Besides this mammal has one more adaptation permitting to keep on trees better. On the back side of paws at this hedgehog especially strong and thick, slightly bent spikes grow in line. With their help the hedgehog can cling to bark, swarming up tree trunk and branches.
Head at this animal is extended and flattened. The muzzle is extended in mobile proboscis with which help animal searches for forage. Ears at Azorean tree hedgehog are wide and mobile – it is necessary not only for search of prey, but also for more effective heat exchange in conditions of hot climate. At animal there is keen hearing due to which this hedgehog can hear noise of insect creeping on bark in night darkness. At this animal there is good night sight, but Azorean tree hedgehog distinguishes colors badly. The brain at this animal is small, and behaviour differs in primitiveness.
Azorean tree hedgehog occupies an ecological niche of small prosimians in ecosystem of this island. This is a solitary animal eating mainly small animals – insects, tree-climbing land crabs and nestlings of various birds. Due to ability to climb on trees this animal can attack colonies of fog swifts settling in cavities of trunks of large trees. Also Azorean tree hedgehog eats mushrooms and juicy soft fruits. Among mushrooms the animal chooses the most worm-eaten ones, and eats them along with larvae of insects settling in them. The poison accumulating in some mushrooms does not harm to it – at Azorean tree hedgehog there is strong immunity to poisons, inherited from ancestor.
Each individual occupies the certain territory which is marked by odorous secretions. Out of breeding season there are no constant shelters in territory of this little mammal. These animals meet only in period of pairing, and in another time protect the territory from relatives. The posterity at these hedgehogs is born two – three times per one year. In litter it may be up to 5 – 6 small, blind and helpless cubs. Before their birth the female searches for shelter in which it will raise cubs. Usually for this purpose it occupies hollows or old bird nests. If necessary the female can expel medium-sized birds from liked nests: it eats their laying or nestlings, and occupies the empty nest.
Young animals abandon nest at the age of about two months. At this time they already see well and able to climb on branches. The litter keeps near to the female till two next weeks, training in ways of getting of food. One-year-old animals already can bring posterity. Life expectancy of this mammal does not exceed 6 years.

Tchagrin(Aepierinaceus tchagrin)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae)

Habitat: Balkans, South-Eastern Europe, south coast of Fourseas, Caucasian peninsula.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Early Neocene lacked various and diverse ecosystems; its’ ecosystems lacked big herbivores and carnivores. So the situation was a bit like early Paleocene when the representatives of different animal groups were having their “tryouts” of different environmental niches. That happened in Eurasia where nature was once under the especially strong influence of mankind. The representative of different species and orders were having their “tryouts’ for the ecological niche of big predator. During a few millions of years true predators from the Carnivora order had to co-exist with different predators representing insectivores and primates. Finally they retook their rightful places in ecosystem which were abandoned during the dominance of mankind, but some of the competitors are still there. In the northern European forests spinywolf (Erinalupus spinosus) lives, and the Mediterranean maquis is inhabited by jackal hedgehog (Erinalupus mediterraneus). The subtropical belt of Europe- Balcans, Asia Minor and Caucasus- are inhabited by another representative of the same family- huge hedgehog tchagrin.
That animal has more primitive features compared to its relatives. Tchagrin is a stocky animal, reminding badger in proportions. Body length is around 140 cm. The visible tail is absent, the head is relatively big, with long movable snout. The fur is grey with brown shades, lighter on the belly; around mouth the fur is white. Tchagrin has strong jaws with sharp teeth of carnivorous animal. But pursuing its prey isn’t one of strong sides of tchagrin: his limbs are relatively short (longer than those of badger but shorter than those of dog) and it’s plantigrade animal. So maximal speed of sprinting tchagrin is around 30 km\h.
Tchagrin has poor eyesight- it’s myopic. But the animal has keen sences of hearing and smell which help him to locate his prey and the sources of possible danger.
From its ancestors the animal has inherited another specific trait- among its fur on the back you can find 5 cm-long hard quills. Those cover upper part of the head, neck, shoulders and the middle of the back along the spine. Tchagrin lost the ability to roll itself up in the ball for protection cause he's too large to do that. But the large size gives him the possibility of active defence. While defending himself, tchagrin opens his mouth wide to demonstrate sharp teeth, and actively tries to bite its opponent or attack him with claws. Rudimentary muscles under skin allow the animal to lift the quills during the attack of predators. That’s a solitary animal who is very aggressive towards its own species outside of mating season. During the fight two tchagrins "box" with their heads while quills are up. During the courting in the mating season male pushes female to the bodyside with his head, quills are down.
The mating season of tchagrins starts early in the spring. The female, who is ready for the coupling, has specific strong musk smell that attracts males. One female can attract up to 5 males. They engage in strong rivalry, pushing the rivals away from desired female with their heads. Female doesn't care about her mate, so sometimes mating happens while the other males nearby are fighting. The winner walks behind the female on stretched legs, sniffing loudly and pushing the female with his head. Once the mating is over, the female sends males away from her.
The pregnancy is about 5 weeks long. The female makes the nest for her cubs from branches and ground. She makes a pile of the branches and digs something akin to dugout under it. The dug earth is thrown over the branches to make a cover from the rain and the wind. The brood (usually 3-5 cubs) is born naked and blind. The eyes open at the age of a week, and at the age of 6 weeks they leave the den together with their mother and start searching for the food with her. The maturity is reached at the age of 3 years, the life span of the species is 40-45 years.

Translated by Charles, the forum guest

Scaly hedgehog (Squamoechinus loricatus)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae)

Habitat: Caucasian Peninsula, Asia Minor, Middle Asia to the east from Fourseas.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Small mammals had gone through epoch of anthropogenous pressure much better, than large ones. In the majority they had kept biological variety and had quickly restored their number after human disappearance. In Neocene among them species developed new features and strategies of survival had evolved.
One unusual species of insectivorous mammals lives in droughty areas in Western Asia to the south of Fourseas – it is scaly hedgehog. Hedgehogs are rather conservative group of mammals though occasionally among them freakish species evolve like fossil Deinogalerix or Neocene spinywolf; both species are large predators. But the majority of hedgehogs even in Neocene are presented by small animals eating insects and other invertebrates.
Scaly hedgehog is a small animal: the length of its body does not exceed 30 cm. Its constitution is typical for hedgehogs: massive trunk, short tail, unspecialized five-fingered and five-toed paws and large head on short neck. Living in hot areas this hedgehog is covered with thin wool of bright yellow color. Back, sides and the top part of head of this animal are spiny – it has inherited this feature from ancestors. But spikes have an unusual structure.
The part of spikes on sides and back is modified into wide scales which gradually transform to the ordinarly looking spikes kept only in forward part of head. Scales have light brown or straw colouring – it helps this animal to avoid overheat. But tips of scales are colored black that unmasks this animal on the background of landscape.
Scaly hedgehog is not afraid of predator attacks, but uses different protection tactics depending on the kind of attacker. If the attacking predator belongs to mammals, this hedgehog is curled off in ball. The scales skintight to each other, forming strong enough armour, and their pointed tips do not allow a predator to unwrap scaly hedgehog by teeth or by paws. Being under attack of reptiles swallowing prey entirely, scaly hedgehog, on the contrary, rises on paws and stretches scales in sides in order to seem larger. Thus black tips of scales are well appreciable on background of light colouring of animal, exaggerating its visual size. Thus hedgehog does not recede even if the reptile touches it with tongue – having convinced that it cannot be bitten, reptile does not continue the attack. Protecting itself against reptiles, this hedgehog turns head to them and rotates on the spot if the predator tries to go and to attack from side.
The diet of scaly hedgehog includes invertebrates (also poisonous ones), small vertebrates and occasionally berries of plants from which it gets needed moisture. This animal is capable to live for a long time without water, getting moisture from prey.
This species of animals is solitary one. Each hedgehog occupies the certain territory from which it expels all strangers. Only a female raising cubs has any constant shelter – usually it is the abandoned hole or crevice between stones. At this species the posterity is born in spring. In a litter there are 3 – 6 naked and blind cubs which grow spikes to the fifth day of life. At the age of 4 weeks the part of needles on back and sides drops out, but at their place at once scales start to grow. At six-week age young animals leave mother and lead independent life. At the age of 1 year they reach maturity. Life expectancy of scaly hedgehog does not exceed 10 years.

New Zealand hedgehog (Austroerinaceus myrmecophagus)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae)

Habitat: New Zealand, forests of Northern Island in area of subtropical climate.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Before human arrival to New Zealand there were no mammals, except for flying and marine ones. People had introduced to these islands a plenty of mammals of various groups which had started to evolve after human disappearance, changing themselves and occupying new ecological niches. The descendant of European hedgehog introduced to New Zealand by people is New Zealand hedgehog, living like ecological analogue of anteater. By its appearance this hedgehog as if parodies the echidna of human epoch because of the muzzle extended to proboscis, long tongue and the forepaws specialized for digging.
New Zealand hedgehog is rather large animal in standards of insectivores: it grows up to 40 cm long and weighs about 800 grammes. All its back, back part of body, top half of sides and even forehead are covered with spikes, straighter and shorter than at echidna. Fur of New Zealand hedgehog is short, but dense, especially at individuals from southern parts of area. It is colored monotonous gray-brown color, but sometimes there are also lighter colored individuals and even partial albinos having white irregular-shaped spots scattered on body.
Forepaws of New Zealand hedgehog are partly specialized for digging holes of underground invertebrates and vertebrates, and resemble paws of American ground squirrels with long and powerful claws. Nevertheless, as against animals like echidna and American anteaters, these claws are not bent and do not prevent this hedgehog to walk on the ground. Hinder legs of hedgehog are considerably less specialized rather than forepaws, and are even a little bit longer. It gives this hedgehog a little bit humpbacked appearance and prevents it to curl in ball similarly to its ancestors. But ability to curl in ball is not too important any more for it as it can escape rather successfully from enemies, having dug in ground like echidna. But longer rear legs and powerful back permit New Zealand hedgehog to rise vertically, that help it to climb on small tree for ants or other invertebrates.
New Zealand hedgehogs live mainly on Northern Island of New Zealand plentifully overgrown with forest. There these hedgehogs efficiently dig forest litter in searches of ants, worms, bugs etc. pulling them out from underground holes by long tongues covered with sticky saliva. Sometimes they creep in underground tunnels of castle rabbits and can put some loss to young rabbit cubs before leaving to the surface. New Zealand hedgehog has still kept sharp enough and strong molars suitable for eating of animal like newborn rabbit cub, but adult rabbits can not be afraid of this hedgehog: they are too large and strong for this prickly animal. Nevertheless, they can make of nothing when hedgehog got in their “fortress” because to answer their attacks hedgehog turns spikes aside the opponent and it cannot neither be pushed away nor bitten.
More mountainous Southern Island is less inhabited by these hedgehogs and they live basically in lowlands, in bushy thickets along the rivers where there is lesser opportunity to meet ruacapangi – large flightless bird of rallid group which can punch through this hedgehog by long beak despite of its spikes, break it off by claws and peck off all edible parts from prickly skin. Besides there is larger amount of food for hedgehog in such places, rather than in drier high-mountainous areas of island.
The peak of activity of New Zealand hedgehog falls to night time when it walks across its territory and updates its borders with odorous marks. In the afternoon time hedgehogs sleep, having buried in the ground or in leaf layer except the moments when they feel the rain coming. These animals do not like rain, especially individuals from Southern Island and if they feel approaching thunder-storm, they immediately leave the shelters and search for places more protected from a rain without dependence from time.
The courtship period at New Zealand hedgehogs takes place in drier season, since May till July. At this time males actively court females, arranging competitions during which they “box” against contenders by prickly forehead. Approximately 5 weeks later females bring a litter of cubs, from 4 up to 6 ones in litter, but at the north it may be up to 7 – 8 ones. Cubs are born almost helpless and blind, but in one and a half month they turn quite independent, and at the third month of life leave mother.
Usual life expectancy of New Zealand hedgehog is about 5 – 6 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Sabre-toothed shrew (Smilosorex venator)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Shrews (Soricidae)

Habitat: forests of temperate and subtropical areas of Eastern Asia, Far East.
The mass extinction at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene freed multiple ecological niches. In early Neocene a peculiar experiment began in nature: the descendants of the surviving species started making attempts to develop new life forms. In deciduous forests of East Asia one representative of the relicts of early Neocenic insectivore radiation lives – the sabre-toothed shrew, a descendant of the common shrew (Sorex araneus).
This species has become somewhat larger than most shrews, known in the human epoch: the body length is 12-15 cm, the tail is 6.5-8 cm, and the skull size is 30.5-34 mm. At this species sexual dimorphism is expressed: the female is smaller than the male. Its ears are relatively small, the eyes are tiny. The muzzle ends in a mobile proboscis, swollen at the base and enclosing large olfactory chambers – the sense of smell at this species is very well developed and is the main sense used when searching for prey. The build is solid, stocky; the tail length is about half the length of the body. Hair on the tail is very sparse.
Like its ancestors, this is a carnivorous species. The specialization of its teeth is noteworthy: the incisors and canines have diminished and grow much closer to each other, and the first molars in the upper jaw have become larger than the others and stick out of the mouth. They erupt much later than the other teeth during the transition of the animal to adulthood. The base of the tooth is reinforced by bone, while the skull is shortened compared to other shrews and its front part is reduced. Molars, following the saber-like ones and growing opposite of them in the lower jaw, are enlarged and have a cutting edge with a thick layer of enamel. The jaws can open up very widely, and the bite force is large enough to be able to bite through the cervical vertebrae of a rabbit-sized animal.
Wool of animals of this species is brown, the belly and throat are colored lighter. The sabre-toothed shrew is a solitary territorial species; when meeting outside of the breeding season, these shrews growl, showing their teeth and trying to exaggerate their size, pacing in front of an opponent on outstretched legs and raising up hair on their backs.
This species feeds on relatively large prey: large invertebrates, mice, voles and rat cubs. In the hunt for rodents, the animals are helped by their long teeth; using them, the sabre-toothed shrew also can pierce the chitinous covers of beetles. Perhaps the sabre tooth developed mainly as a weapon for hunting for armored invertebrates. On occasion, this shrew attacks ground-dwelling birds, far exceeding its size, and often emerges victorious. Killed bird may be enough for it for feeding till some days, until the meat decays so much that it could not eat it. The sabre-toothed shrew also does not disdain carrion, and sometimes eats the remains of someone else’s prey. The relatively large size of this shrew reduced its appetite, but because of its intense metabolism it eats per day as much food as it weighs.
The breeding season lasts from May to September, the females manage to raise 2 litters of cubs. Males at this time are intolerant to each other and between them combats take place, in which the teeth are never used – the opponents fight and scratch each other with their paws. Pregnancy lasts for 3 weeks; the litter size is up to 5 cubs. Cubs remain in a shelter for 15 – 20 days, and then they keep near their mother for the same time. Brood follows the female in single chain, holding on by their teeth to the base of the tail of that which is ahead, the first one holding the tail of the mother. At the age of 50 days, females are already able to reproduce. Life expectancy is about 2.5 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Nick, the forum member

Translated by FanboyPhilosopher.

Wormtonguer (Vermiglossorex formicivora)
Order: Insectivors (Insectivora)
Family: Wormtonguers (Vermiglossotheriidae)
Habitat: Central and Southern Africa, savanna with small areas of wood vegetation, wood in foothills.

Picture by Timothy Morris
Colorization by Carlos Pizcueta

Initial image made by Pavel Volkov.

When an environment had stabilized after Holocene accident , the climate of Earth became considerably warmer and more humid. At animals the huge amount of new fodder resources had appeared, number and species variability of some animal groups had considerably increased. In warm Neocenic climate the area of various social insects had considerably extended, and they became a fodder resource for some species of animals representing new families, appeared in Neocene.
The wormtonguer is African variant of anteater being the descendant of any species of numerous African shrews (Soricidae). It is rather large representative of order: cat-sized, but it seems even more largly because of features of constitution. The head at animal is very long: it is the adaptation for feed in nests of social insects. The muzzle of shrews is usually extended to short flexible proboscis. This feature has received the further development at their descendant: the skull of animal is short and expanded in front, and increased nasal cartilages serve as support for very long mobile proboscis (making two thirds of length of head) with nostrils and mouth on the end. Nostrils have ring contracting muscles – it is the adaptation for protection against insect stings. Being feeding this mammal breathes by mouth in a step to tongue movements or holds the breath at all. Tongue is very long - it may be extended forward for length of proboscis of animal. The basis of tongue fastens to hypoglossal bone which has moved far back, to middle of chest. In mouth salivary glands producing sticky saliva thickening in air are well advanced. Teeth are original – incisors, canines and premolars are not present in both jaws, only sharp-edged molars have remained – two pairs in each jaw. With their help animal crushes caught insects frayed then by corneous outgrowths of stomach walls. But at young animals at which the proboscis is not advanced yet, among milk-teeth two cutters in each jaw develop nevertheless. Ears are short, they can fold across with the help of special muscle. It protects them from stings of insects.
The animal spends practically all life on the ground, but if it is necessary (for example, during flooding) it can dexterously climb on trees and even swim. Usually the wormtonguer moves on the ground on four legs. Hinder legs are plantigrade with straight claws and non-joined toes. On forepaws there are sharp claws, therefore animal at walking supports on lateral side of fingers (claws at walking are turned by edges to each other). Tail is strong, with thick basis where the fat accumulates, assisting to go through fodder shortage. On waist of animal there is special gland, secreting musk liquid. Colouring of wool of animal is not striking: head of males is dark-brown colored with white tip of proboscis, back is grey with brown cross strips, and tail is black. At females head is grey without white spots. Claws at animals of both sexes are sandy-yellow.
Wormtonguers are active in the afternoon: from dawn till midday and some hours before sunset. At this time insects are not so active and not so strongly bite, or hasten to nest and are not so aggressive. Having found the nest of termites or ants, animal rises on hinder legs, rests tail against the ground, and digs out the house of insects by strong movements of forepaws. It licks off running outside insects by tongue. Besides the animal can dig out of the ground larvae of beetles and gathers single insects from plants. Usually wormtonguers live single life, zealously protecting fodder site from encroachments of neighbours. Borders of this territory are diligently marked by sharply smelling musk liquid. In territory at animal there are some constant shelters, in one of which it spends the night and will spend hottest time of day. Only in breeding season borders of territories can be broken, and animals sometimes use this circumstance, redistributing fodder areas. Usually one female and some males take part in courtship ritual. Trying to impress the female, they walk on hinder legs, show claws and loudly snort. The female couples with strongest of applicant males though it frequently prefers most strongly smelling of them.
Two - three times per one year the female gives rise to three – four cubs. Newborn wormtonguers are naked, blind, with closed ears. At them there are very short proboscises, therefore they can suck milk without difficulties. The female hides them in specially dug hole and feeds with milk about three weeks. At three-week age young animals leave(abandon) a hole and gradually pass to an adult diet. About one week the female teaches them to find forage, than one week the young growth keeps near to it for protection. Later young animals pass to independent life, searching free territory for themselves. Young animals are not so specialized, as adults: their diet includes much more species of insects. When the proboscis starts to grow, the wormtonguer passes to eat extremely ants and termites. They become sexual mature at the second year of life; life expectancy is about 10 - 12 years.
Enemies of wormtonguers are predatory birds and mammals, sometimes large snakes and lizards attack them. The animal applies sharp claws to protect against enemies with which it inflicts to aggressor serious lacerations. Warning about intention to defend, animal emits odorous liquid and rubs itself’s back against stones or tree trunks. Also, sharply exhaling air through mouth, it utters loud sound – shrill whistle. Usually the predator has got from wormtonguer deep wound, remembers its shout of threat and pungent smell for a long time.

Snailer (Vermiglossorex malacovora)
Order: Insectivors (Insectivora)
Family: Wormtonguers (Vermiglossotheriidae)

Habitat: Central and Southern Africa, flatland and mountain woods.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

This mammal is similar to the previous species (and it is no wonder, they are close relatives!), but it lives mainly in damp places – in tropical woods and thickets of bushes on river banks. The reason is, that the food of snailer lives here - this animal eats basically snails of various species. For eating of such food at snailer the special adaptation was developed: on the end of its tongue horn thorns directed back have appeared. It permits to take spineless invertebrates from their refuges and shells. The muzzle of snailer in connection with difference in diet became much shorter than at wormtonguer, and teeth are advanced very poorly and submitted by one pair of molars (with very thin layer of enamel) in each jaw.
As against to extremely ground-dwelling wormtonguer, the snailer uses various biotopes for life. More often this animal meets among trees in damp tropical rainforest. It perfectly swarms up trees: fingers of snailer are thin and sensitive similarly to fingers of primates. But they are armed with sharp claws, permitting to cling, clamber and if necessary to break rotten wood. Tail of snailer is rather flexible and partly prehensile. Colouring of this mammal is very contrast, cryptic: the forward part of body (head, shoulders and chest) is colored black, back one is light grey, almost white. On forepaws of animal there are white “gloves” up to elbows and on waist and basis of tail – black round stains. The tail of animal partly imitates colouring of some wood snakes that protects animal from predators.
This species eats spineless invertebrates – larvae, worms and snails. Snailer is able to break rotten tree and to take by tongue from burrows larvae of capricorn beetles. Animal determines their presence, sniffing at apertures, bored by larvae in wood. The most usual catch of this animal includes ground snails making over half of its diet. Snailer takes them from shell, having cut edge of mollusc body by claw of the thumb near the edge. After that animal pins snail body on tongue, having pushed it in shell deeply to all coils, and by one jerk takes mollusc meat entirely, has left shell empty.
If it is a little number of ground snails in its habitat, animals from populations living near to rivers can dive into water, catching water snails. Having pulled out from water such catch, snailer carefully shakes off, and then deals with mollusc. Usually water snails, as against to ground ones, have protective corneous operculum on their shells. Snailer cuts its contractor by claw and then eats mollusc.
Snailers are solitary territorial animals. But as against to wormtonguers they eat more accessible and various forage therefore they do not have sharp intraspecific competition, and they are more tolerant concern to presence of neighbours.
As well as wormtonguer, snailer breeds some times per one year. Two times per year female gives rise to 5 – 6 cubs. Male finds female in its territory (usually it is the male from the fodder site located near), and some time both animals keep and fed together. Pairing repeats some times but when female will feel approach of pregnancy, it banishes male.
Cubs are born naked and blind, but grow quickly. At monthly age they actively study world around, observing for mother and founding food under her supervision. And at the age of three months they become completely independent. At the age of one and half years female is capable to bear posterity. Life expectancy of snailer is usually rather short – no more than 8 years. Obviously, it is connected with fact that adult animals are practically without exception infected with helminths, receiving them from forage – ground snails.

Ferocious condylutra (Condylutra ferox)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Moles (Talpidae)

Habitat: North America, temperate and subtropical latitudes, to the north up to Mishe-Nama Lake (southern and western coast); freshwater reservoirs of various kinds – from lakes up to swamps.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

During the evolution process low-specialized forms receive advantage in survival first of all. Due to absence of specialization they show a wide spectrum of variability and can occupy various ecological niches. Highly specialized species, on the contrary, can develop only aside the amplification of specialization. This principle is shown evidently by insectivorous mammals of mole family. In Neocene their specialized representatives have kept characteristic shape of digging animal, and evolution of unspecialized forms had resulted in completely unexpected results.
In areas of temperate climate of North America one of unusual descendants of moles of Holocene epoch lives. The structure of muzzle gives out its origin: it is crowned up by long mobile proboscis which tip is surrounded with fleshy outgrowths. This animal is very large descendant of star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) which leads semi-aquatic habit of life. The name of this animal, “Condylutra”, combines two names: “Condylura” – star-nosed mole (an ancestor of this species), and “Lutra” – otter (this animal partly replaces it in ecosystems).
Condylutra represents the ecological analogue of platypus and mink – it is aquatic carnivore eating large invertebrates and small vertebrates. This is an animal of streamline shape up to 60 cm long not including tail; individuals from southern populations are smaller.
Head of condylutra is flat and lengthened, with low brain cavity. Eyes of this mammal are very small, and sight is bad. But this animal searches for prey under water not with the help of sight. Its main sensitive organ is long snout extended to flexible mobile proboscis and covered with naked pink skin. On tip of muzzle of its ancestor mobile sensitive shoots grew, helping to search for food. In evolution process condylutra had further improvement of this sensitive organ. Overgrown shoots of condylutra’s snout have electrosensitivity. With the help of this feature animal can search in muddy water for small animals by their electric field. External auricles at this animal are reduced, and small ear apertures are closed by reduction of special ring muscle at diving.
Wool of condylutra is rich and velvety, colored grey. To give it the water-repellent properties animal regularly greases hair with oily liquid secreting by two large glands at the basis of tail. The animal finds a lot of time to look after wool, combing it by claws of hind legs.
Condylutra leads aquatic way of life and is able to swim quickly. Diving for prey, animal can stay under water till about 5 minutes. Short (about 10 cm long) tail of condylutra is similar to beaver’s tail a little. It is rounded from sides, and its back edge is dulled. Tail is covered with dense rigid skin and thin hair; it helps to speed-up at swimming and is usually used, if it is necessary for animal to swim quickly, not turning off (for example, escaping from predator or banishing the congener). In this case condylutra swims with the help of wavy movements of backbone in vertical plane. For underwater hunting animal uses other style of swimming. Forepaws of condylutra are transformed to narrow paddles with well advanced claws; animal uses them when it is necessary to swim slowly and maneuverably, surveying places in which prey may hide. Diving for food, this animal digs out bottom by claws of forepaws, overturns snags and climbs among stalks of water plants. Also with the help of forepaws condylutra digs at the riverbanks and lake coasts long holes with several exits. The main exit opens right under water, and some emergency exits in case of flooding of hole or occurrence of predator lead to shelters and to the ground surface.
Condylutra has kept predating habits of ancestor: it is exclusivaly carnivore. Teeth of condylutra are numerous (44 ones) and pointed. This animal eats any food of animal origin which may be found in water and near water: worms, molluscs, crayfishes and crabs, dead or weakened fish. Condylutra can ravage clutches and even attacks chicks of waterfowl, snatching them from under water.
It is solitary species with primitive behaviour, not forming pairs even in courtship season. Each individual marks the territory with musky secretions and protects it from relatives. Pairing at this species takes place in early spring, after clearing of reservoirs from ice. In southern part of area the repeated courtship season occurs in second half of summer. Male searches for the female ready to pairing guiding by smell, pairs with it quickly and after pairing the female banishes him (she is larger and stronger, rather than male). Once a year (at the south of an area 2 times per year) the female gives rise to 4 – 5 cubs in deep hole. The nesting chamber is always above water level. Newborn cubs are naked and blind. They develop within 2 months, leave the female and lead independent life. Young animals become sexually mature at the age of 6 – 7 months: in southern parts of area young animals from the second litter already participate in pairing and give rise to posterity the next year.
Life expectancy of condylutra does not exceed 5 years.

Long-spiked maurihystrix (Maurihystrix longispinosus)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Tenrecs (Tenrecidae)

Habitat: Mauritius Island, highlands.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Representatives of ancient family of tenrecs in human epoch lived mainly at Madagascar and Comoro Islands (from this family only African water shrews lived in Africa). One of their representatives, rather large species, tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus), had been acclimatized by people at Mauritius Island. After extinction of mankind activity of introduced species had completely changed the nature of island, and evolution at Mauritius Island has gone in other direction.
The descendant of tailless tenrec is one of species of Neocene fauna of this island. At tenrecs there is very small brain, and this animal does not differ in complexity of behaviour. For this reason evolution of tenrec descendant has gone to the way of improvement of passive protection that was promoted by fine inclinations getting from the ancestor. The body of ancestral species was covered with wool with bristle-like spikes. This feature had received powerful development at the Neocene descendant, and this way the maurihystrix (literally means “Mauritian porcupine”) – the large tenrec with long spikes, similar to a porcupine, had evolved at this island.
The body length of maurihystrix reaches 60 cm at the weight of about 5 kgs. This is plantigrade sluggish animal with short limbs and rather large head. Paws of animal are tenacious, and on fingers strong claws grow, with which help animal gets various food. Head of maurihystrix is lengthened, with peaked forward teeth and nose turned to short mobile proboscis.
Wool of maurihystrix is short and bristly, grey-colored; on stomach it is lighter. On top of head of animal wool forms long hair “cop”. The top part of body (back, nape, top part of neck and shoulders) of this species is covered with spikes up to 5 cm long. Along the middle of back the crest of lengthened (up to 15 cm) spikes grows; with its help animal puts to predators dangerous wounds. Spikes of young animals are dark, at adults they gradually brighten.
This mammal lives in mountains and other dry places, thus avoiding a competition to Mauritian dwarf pigs, which are more moisture-loving. Maurihystrix is able to climb on trees. Adult individuals do it very clumsily, but young maurihystrixes climb quickly and dexterously.
This is solitary animal. Maurihystrix does not avoid relatives, but concerns to them indifferently, not establishing hierarchy. Only at appreciable lack of forage animals show aggression to relatives. Sight at maurihystrix is weak, and eyes are small. For it keen hearing and sense of smell are more important, because the animal often searches for food in high grass where visibility is very bad. This species is omnivorous. The significant part of its diet the vegetative food– roots and fruits of plants – occupies. Also it willingly eats insects and small reptiles, digs grubs and worms from ground. At an opportunity maurihystrix eats carrion.
The disturbed animal hisses and rears spikes, having turned sideways aside the enemy. The attacked animal actively shows an opportunity of self-defense, jumping up on four paws and having curved back like a cat.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of maurihystrixes is not expressed. Pairing is not anticipated by the courtsip ritual, and the female raises posterity alone. Twice per one year it gives rise to many cubs – up to 15 ones in one litter. Newborn maurihystrixes are completely defenceless. They are blind, covered with thin wool without spikes. The female arranges for them a den in rich bush, or digs a hole under roots of tree. At week-aged cubs eyes are already opened, and wool becomes thicker. At three-week age they start to move in den actively and try to explore vicinities. Monthly cubs can already not lag behind the female. They abandon the nest and follow mother in wood. At this time at them spikes start to grow. The highest death rate at maurihystrixes takes place during the pass to independent life. The sexual maturity at young animals comes at the age of 18 months. Life expectancy of maurihystrixes reaches 10 years.

Flabellitherium, fan beast (Flabellitherium semisolaris)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Tenrecs (Tenrecidae)

Habitat: Madagascar, savannas of the western part of the island.
In human era tenrecs were among the typical representatives of mammalian fauna of Madagascar. This group of mammals demonstrated a significant species diversity and differences in lifestyle. Among tenrecs arboreal, digging, aquatic and terrestrial forms existed. In human epoch there was a significant reduction in the number of these animals, and a number of species became extinct during the Ice Age at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene. But the survived species continued evolving, and among them new and unusual forms appeared, sometimes reaching large sizes. The species richness of small and medium-sized tenrecs also increased, and among them forms having unusual anatomical and behavioral characteristics appeared. One of these species is the whimsical flabellitherium, the “fan beast”, living in savannas in the west of the island.
The flabellitherium is a descendant of the tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus), a widespread and easily adapting species of this family. This species evolved to strengthen its passive protection, and eventually on the plains of Madagascar a tenrec similar to a porcupine appeared. The flabellitherium is a chunky and slowly moving beast; the adult weighs about 8 kilograms and resembles a small badger in constitution. If necessary, it can run fast for short distances, but cannot run for a long time. In fact, it prefers not to run away from enemies, but to use other methods of self-defense.
The back of flabellitherium is covered with durable movable spikes up to 20 cm long, which provide it the main protection from enemies. Spikes also grow on the animal’s head and neck, and also there is a stripe-like zone of their growth along the midline of the back up to the base of the very short tail. At the base of the spikes sparse and rigid elongated wool grows, visually enhancing the outline of the animal. Some spikes are thickened and hollow – they are used as rattles, further warning predators of intent of the beast to protect itself. The colouring of sides and belly of the flabellitherium is grayish-brown; on the back colors are more contrasting: a white background, on which black spots and strokes of various shapes are scattered. Spikes and wool between the spikes are grayish-white. This is warning coloring, reinforcing its threatening demonstration.
When frightened the flabellitherium raises upright its spikes that stick out in all directions and make the outline of the beast look like a fan. At the same time the flabellitherium turns its side to the predator, so the black-and-white color of his back is clearly visible to the aggressor. Until the predator keeps its distance, the flabellitherium loudly hisses and squeals, occasionally slightly trembling wit its body. At this point the spikes knock against each other, and a loud cracking sound is heard. If the predator attacks, the beast turns to it by spikes and tries to prick it. During the fight flabellitheriums bite strongly.
This animal has an elongated snout and a movable prominent proboscis-like nose. Its weak long jaws are equipped with pointed teeth. Resembling a porcupine outwardly, flabellitherium differs from it in diet: this is a zoophagous species, feeding on insects, small vertebrates and carrion. On occasion it willingly ravages bird nests.
Seasonality in reproduction at flabellitheriums is not expressed. This species does not form permanent pairs and each animal usually occupies a certain territory, banishing its relatives from it. Male finds a female ready to pair by smell and encroaching on her territory. It displays itself to the female, pacing in front of her on outstretched legs, slightly trembling and chattering its spikes. At the same time it opens its spike fan and bars the way of the female. If she tries to leave, the male rattles its spikes stronger and runs at her head, trying to stop her. If the female does not try to move out, the male gradually calms down and lowers its spikes, showing thus the absence of aggression. After mating the pair separates. The female can mate, still taking care for cubs of its previous litter.
Pregnancy lasts up to 60 days; during the year the female can make 2-3 litters of cubs, and then rests for about six months. The female gives birth to 1-10 cubs in a hole that she digs herself or occupies someone else’s. At birth, the cubs are hairless and blind, but within a few days after birth they are covered with hair, and at the age of 2 weeks their eyes open and spikes begin to grow. At the age of 6-7 weeks cubs can already leave the hole and walk through the territory with their mother, learning to search of food. Three-month young animals already leave their mother and live independently. At the age of 1 year, the animals reach sexual maturity. Life expectancy is 10 years.

Translated by FanboyPhilosopher.

Shield-faced mole tenrec (Malagasytalpa scutifera)
Order: Insectivores (Insectivora)
Family: Tenrecs (Tenrecidae)

Habitat: Madagascar, savannas and woodlands.
The fauna of Madagascar got very serious damage because of human activity. The large species lived at the island before human colonization had died out within several centuries. The species living in forests also had suffered. But even in human epoch island had been inhabited by groups of small endemic animals. Among them the tenrec family expressed remarkable variety. It included the species occupying various ecological niches and having shapes differing in great degree. This family has kept a variety in human epoch, and in Neocene it entered new heyday. Among Neocene tenrecs there are huge species, but all the same the majority of their species has the small size.
Insectivorous mammals of families typical for continental Africa do not live on Madagascar in Neocene, and tenrecs have occupied their ecological niches. In forests and bushes, in humus-rich soil many kinds of invertebrates live. And the top predator of underground habitats is the separate species of tenrecs looking like mole. This is a blind creature having powerful digging paws – shield-faced mole tenrec, the descendant of rice tenrecs (Oryzorictes spp.) inhabited this island in human epoch. It is specialized deeper to burrowing habit of life, rather than its ancestors. This animal is up to 20 cm long with long naked tail, short head and cylindrical body. The basic digging instruments are large forepaws; 3-rd and 4-th fingers carry huge claws on wide bases. 2-nd finger is short, and thumb can oppose against fingers. Nestling to digging claws it helps in keeping food and to bringing it to the mouth. Hinder legs have four toes, narrow foot and long claws. Tail is covered with corneous scales of grey color and thin hairs.
At this animal eyes had completely disappeared, and even the optic nerve had undergone a significant degeneration. Auricles visible outside are lack at this animal, and the acoustic duct is protected by small skin valve. Animal has massive bones; therefore it is not able to swim. But bones conduct the sounds extending through the ground, and this feature helps an animal to orientate in environmental conditions. Also whiskers growing on muzzle of animal serve for orientation. The muzzle of animal takes part in underground tunnel burrowing, and the top part of head of this tenrec is protected by strong hairless corneous plate of brownish-yellow color comparable in hardness with claws of animal; hence the name of animal and specific epithet “scutifera” meaning “shield-bearing”. Short velvety fur of black color with brownish shade permits this animal to move back and forth in tunnels equally easy.
Shield-faced mole tenrec is flesh-eater. It feeds on various invertebrates, attacks frogs, reptiles and the small rodents get into its tunnels. This species leads solitary way of life, and two individuals of this species behave aggressively having met each other. Among shield-faced mole tenrecs cannibalism is usual, and adult individuals frequently eat young growth, and even attack newborn cubs. Pairing is possible at any time of year. The female ready to meeting with male leaves odorous marks of pungent smell in tunnels. Pregnancy lasts till only 10 – 12 days. The female brings up to 10 naked helpless cubs quickly growing and becoming independent at the age of 2 months. In 5 months age young animals become adults. Feeding up posterity the female grows thin considerably, and after young animals left her, it restores the physical shape for a long time. For one year it brings up to three litters. Life expectancy of shield-faced mole tenrec does not exceed 4 years.

Stream elephant shrew (Desmanella natans)
Order: Elephant shrews (Macroscelidea)
Family: Elephant shrews (Macroscelididae)

Habitat: mountain areas of Zinj Land.

Picture by fanboyphilosopher

Split off from African continent, Eastern Africa, or Zinj Land, had carried away the highest mountain tops of the continent. In Neocene mountain tops of Zinj Land are still the kind of water wapour condenser, and the numerous streams merging in rough rivers full of rapids flowing down from them. In cold water water mosses grow, and their sprouts wave in current. Stones and plants are populated with numerous larvae of insects – May flies, caddis flies, midges and mosquitoes. Some of them scrape bacterial layer from stones and plants, others eat plants, and the third ones are predators and hunt not only invertebrates, but also fish fry. And insects, in turn, represent the food of original representative of elephant shrews adapted to aquatic lifestyle.
This species, stream elephant shrew, feels like very well in cold water and easily swims against fast current of streams. It descends from one species of elephant shrews of genus Elephantulus widely settled in Eastern Africa. Stream elephant shrew is a small species: it is like young brown rat the size. Fur of this animal is water-repellent, very dense and velvety. Colouring of fur is black: it helps this animal to be warmed quickly in sunny place, and it is very important at life in cold water of mountain streams. This mammal dived under water seems silvery because of air layer kept in wool. In order to support water-repellent properties of fur, stream elephant shrew takes a great care to it, combs it by claws and greases with oily secretions of glands developed in armpits. Forepaws of this animal are mobile and have sharp claws. Hind legs are much longer than forepaws, and the animal moves overland by jumps like jerboa. If necessary stream elephant shrew is capable to make jumps up to three meters long, and easily crosses the river by several jumps on stones, escaping from predators. This animal swims with the help of hind legs, having pressed forepaws against chest. Edges of feet are covered with long rigid bristles unbending during the swimming and increasing a rowing surface. Swimming animal makes pushes by two hind legs simultaneously. The tail of animal is long and thick – a stock of fat gathers in it being used in case of starvation.
Stream elephant shrew has very small auricles. The external ear of animal seems hidden in skin, and the top edge of auricle blocks an acoustic duct under water serving as a valve. The mobile proboscis helps this animal to search for food in water. Due to large eyes stream elephant shrew has good eyesight both on land and under water.
This exclusively species is an original kind of “desman” in mountain areas of Zinj Land. His diet includes insects and their larvae, snails, crustaceans and small fishes. Within the day one animal eats food in amount approximately equal to two thirds of its body weight. Stream elephant shrew leads exclusively solitaru habit of life, only the female and her posterity up to achievement of sexual maturity live together. This animal is strictly territorial, and marks the territory with the same secretions as it greases wool. For this purpose little mammal simply clamps a stalk of a grass between a body and a forepaw, and drags it through an armpit.
The courtship season at this species is not expressed clearly, and posterity is born at any time of year. Male searches for the females ready to pairing, guided by smell of their territorial marks. At this time it is extremely aggressive to contenders, and frequently kills their by bite in head. Three times per one year, after the pregnancy continuing about seven weeks, the female gives rise to posterity – 2 – 3 blind and helpless cubs covered with rich wool. The female hides a litter in shelter – usually in hole dug out under stones and covered with dry leaves. Within one month cubs grow and study to extract food, then the female stops to feed them with milk and only enables to spend the night in her shelter. The bi-monthly cub already leads independent life, and the four-monthly female is ready to pairing.
In especially cold time this species can run into short-term hibernation of which delay of physiological processes is typical and body temperature drops down to + 10 – 12°С. Due to this feature the organism of animal grows old not as quickly as at constantly active animals having similar physiology. Stream elephant shrew from high-mountainous areas are able to live 8 – 9 years, and individuals from warmer areas live no more than 4 years.

Ant elephant shrew (Myrmisengi saltator)
Order: Elephant shrews (Macroscelidea)
Family: Elephant shrews (Macroscelididae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, rainforests.
Elephant shrews represent a group of mammals very characteristic for Africa and kept primitive body plan. Split of Africa and separating of East-African subcontinent (Zinj Land) have resulted in isolation of the species survived in human epoch. And restoration of tropical forests has allowed some species to develop a new inhabitancy – forest underbrush.
The large species of elephant shrews lives in forests of Zinj Land – shaggy forest elephant (Rhynchoporcus monstrosus). It is one of largest species – its length is from above half meter. But in the neighbourhood of it the tiny mammal moving by jumps on two hinder legs lives – ant elephant shrew. This tiny mammal is about 10 cm long, and tail makes approximately the same length. It has wide mobile ears, large eyes and mobile sensitive proboscis. Hind legs of this little mammal are longer than front ones, on bottom side of toes corneous callouses develop, improving traction with a ground. Forepaws are mobile and have thin sensitive fingers.
The wool of this mammal is short and has reddish-brown color with black longitudinal strip from nape up to the basis of tail. Tail, paws and ears are hairless, covered with dark skin. Above eyes two bright yellow spots are located, helping to distinguish relatives in twilight of forest floor.
This species of animals leads an unusual way of life and searches for meeting of creatures carrying fear and panic to the majority of forest inhabitants. Ant elephant shrew searches for the columns of army ants creeping on the ground and keeps near them. The presence of ants frightens inhabitants of underbrush and forces them to search for a new refuge. And ant elephant shrew easily notices and catches them. One more source of forage is everything carried by columns of ants accompanied with it: the caught insects and larvae, and also ants’ pupae. Due to speed this little mammal can snatch out ants burdened with load from a column, and furious soldier ants simply have no time to do anything against it. Also this elephant shrew can hunt insects itself. It licks prey off by long tongue covered with sticky saliva.
These animals lead a solitary way of life, but have no precisely determined territory. If near to ant column two animal of this species meet, between them the fight flashes, accompanying with shrill squeak and bites of the opponent to shoulders and ears.
Pairing does not have the expressed seasonal character. Male finds the female by smell, pairs with her and immediately leaves her. After the pregnancy lasting about 6 weeks, well advanced cubs are born, capable to move independently. The female brings three litters (1 – 2 cubs each time) during one year. Posterity stays with her till first four weeks of life, and then starts hunting independently. Ant elephant shrew grows very quickly: the three-monthly female is already able to bring posterity. But life expectancy at this species does not exceed three years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Tree micropangola, “walking pinecone” (Micropangola scandens)
Order: Pangolins (Pholidota)
Family: Pangolins (Manidae)

Habitat: tropical rainforests of Hindustan, South East Asia, tree crones.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

The order Pholidota was never especially numerous and diverse. At the beginning of their evolution these animals had adapted to feed on insects, having become ecological analogues of anteaters in Old World. This specialization caused their conservatism and imposed certain restrictions to the body size and way of life, having allowed animals to vary in quite strict limits. The upper limit of the body size of pangolins is rather rigidly limited, but the lower limit is limited by nothing, and one of Neocene species of pangolins – tree micropangola – shows it.
This species is adapted to life in tropical rainforest where it inhabits forest canopy – the place richest in life. To make it possible the animal had to offer in the sizes and physical power. Tree micropangola differs from its relatives in small size and truncated snout. The body length of this animal is about a half a meter, and wide muscled tail takes a half of this length. The body of micropangola is covered with corneous scales, as at its ancestor. But the scales are rather thick and strong, and the scales along the spine have pointed tips. On head and paws scales actually turn to corneous scutes located closely to each other. Primary color of scales is reddish-brown; sides of head are coloured lighter a little.
This animal has short snout, but the tongue is long and flexible. Its base is shifted far back and is attached to chest bone. Due to elasticity of tissues the tongue may extend from the mouth at the distance equal to double length of the head. Ears and eyes of this animal are small, and sight sense is bad. But it is compensated very much by keen senses of smell and touch which are used in food search. The feeding animal constantly taps on tree with claws and determines by the type of wood vibration the existence of cavities in wood mass – the tunnels and the chambers gnawed by insects. Having felt their presence, it breaks wood by claws and penetrates the tongue into the opened tunnels, licking off the insects.
Paws of tree micropangola are adapted for grabbing of branches. On forepaws strong and slightly bent claws nestle against the palm and form strong grap, allowing the animal to cling even on thin branches. Feet of hinder legs are covered with corneous combs allowing clinging to bark and branches much stronger. The tip of tail of this animal is expanded, and scales bordering the body edges are strong and peaked – it is an additional adaptation for fixation on trunk and branches. A usual pose of feeding animal is the perching a tail downwards. Thus scales at the back edge of tail stick to the bark and take up weight of the animal.
The main protective adaptation at this species is the set of strong corneous scales. They defend tree micropangola against birds and small arboreal predators. Defending itself, micropangola sits across the branch, envelopes it with tail like a ring, and covers the head with tail tip. Due to strong muscles the animal can keep such pose till about one hour. If the predator doesn’t stop attempts of attack or is too strong, tree micropangola can defend itself actively, imposing on it the near battle which can finish with serious injuries for the attacker. Thus, having grab the branch by hind legs and having clasped it by the tail, the animal sharply throws up a body, strikes to the enemy some fast blows by large claws of forepaws, and then clasps a branch again and hides the head under tail tip.
The seasonality in reproduction of this speciees isn’t expressed, but in areas of monsoonal climate the most number of youngs appears in rain season. The courtship ritual of tree micropangola is primitive and is reduced to chase of female by male. After pairing animals abandon each other. There is only one cub always; it stays with mother up to three-monthly age and then starts to lead independent life. Life expectancy doesn’t exceed 12 years.

The idea about existence of this species of mammals was suggested by Simon, the forum member.
Translated by Alexander Smyslov.

Mole pangolin (Talpangola laticauda)
Order: Pangolins (Pholidota)
Family: Digging pangolins (Armotalpidae)

Habitat: Southern and South-Eastern Asia, woods and light forests.
Order of pangolins is rather conservative group of mammals. From early Cenozoic, according known fossils, they almost did not change structure and habit of life. But in epoch of mass extinction few successful forms which have standed “durability test” start to evolve actively, giving rise to new lifeforms.
Obviously on this wave one of pangolin species living in woods of South-Eastern Asia, had mastered new to this group habit of life, becoming practically completely underground animal.
Common length of the Asian mole pangolin is up to half meter including tail. Head of animal is wedge-shaped, flattened, covered with corneous plates forming continuous protective armour. With the help of such head animal can ram friable wood ground, digging a hole to it. Eyes are very small, protected from above by corneous “eyebrowes”. To protect eyes from ground at animal in addition there are advanced dense brushy eyelashes. Auricles are not present; ear apertures are covered by special corneous plates. Sight and hearing at mole pangolin are bad, but sense of smell with which help the animal searches for the forage (ground invertebrates, including social insects) is perfectly advanced. Nasal cavities occupy significant part of skull.
Forepaws with powerful claws are the basic “digging instrument” of mole pangolin. Claws on II and III fingers are especially advanced. Back legs are short, plantigrade, with large feet. Almost all loading during digging and movement falls on them.
At all species of pangolins known in human epoch tails were very long. Turning such tail around of body, pangolin could feel like in full safety from predators. At the mole pangolin the protective role of tail is lost, as the animal spends almost all life in holes, getting out from them only in case of emergency. Tail of the mole pangolin is wide and short, during short travel on surface of the ground it can protect an animal: the disturbed mole pangolin can turn having covered belly and partly head with tail. If the enemy will not recede, the animal makes sharp movements by forepaws, trying to wound the enemy by sharp claws.
Body is covered with scale armour, as at all representatives of order. Between scales it is only few wool, it is very thin. Edges of scales are covered with corneous hairs that strengthens coupling of scales and make their abutment more dense. Colouring of scales is rosy-brown. Because of continual friction against ground scales of animal are “polished” and gleam slightly. Horn hairs are formed at rubbing of corneous layer on edge of scale, and represent ends of fibres forming every separate scale.
During digging mole pangolin serially shovels ground by claws under belly and throws it back by legs. The main reason of special form of tail of this animal is its use during digging holes: from time to time the animal lowers shovel-like tail and starts to move back, raking by it away shoveled up ground to hole entrance.
This mammal eats insects and other invertebrates licking them off by long tongue. Basis of its diet are larvae of beetles rummaging in ground, earthworms and snails dug in the ground. Frequently this pangolin digs burrows to termitaries, visiting them by turns and breaking underground part of insect nests. When from the damaged nest hundreds of “soldiers” and working individuals run out for repair of it, animal simply licks them off by tongue, staying still.
Twice per year female gives rise to 1 – 2 cubs. As opposed to other pangolins, cubs keep on stomach of mother - if they’ll sat on back as at ground and climbing pangolins, female simply would dump them during movement. The female carrying cubs, digs ground more cautiously, preferring to move in ready holes.
Cubs leave mother’s stomach at fortnight age, but about one month they are fed with her milk. They become completely adult at the age of half-year. Life expectancy of this animal reaches 10 – 12 years.

Lupardus (Lupardus tenuis)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: Northern America, plains and semidesert.

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

During anthropogenous pressure on nature number and variety of most part of large “noble” predators (felines, bears, canines etc.) had strongly decreased, and some species had completely disappeared. Populations of predators were so strongly undermined by human activity, that the most part of carnivores species had not gone through ecological crisis at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene, and had simply died out during several hundreds of thousand years when on Earth unproductive ecosystems had expressed. But completely new opportunities had been received by species which had successfully coexisted humans. In Northern America such species was coyote (Canis latrans) which had widely settled at the continent due to extermination of wolf and woods slash. This species had reached prosperity in Northern America, having evolved to some new species of predators.
One of descendants of coyote inhabits plains overgrown with grasses in the central part of the continent, stretched like wide strip along Rocky mountains from the north to the south. This animal is externally similar not to coyote, and not to the representative of canine family at all, and more to someone of felines. This similarity is reflected in the name of an animal: derivative of words Lupus (Latin “wolf”) and “-pardus” – the ending of names of some felines.
This species is specialized in catching of swift-footed medium-sized catch that had resulted in formation of running predator of the special appearance. A constitution of lupardus is rather light: animal has muscled sinewy body, thin long legs and flexible backbone. Claws at lupardus are short, but thick and sharp: they improve coupling with ground at run. By appearance it resembles other swift-footed predatory animals of Neocene: African pardinia and Middle-Asian zibetonyx (both animals are representatives of civet family). Losing to other predators in physical strength, lupardus surpasses them in speed: it is the fastest animal of the American continent, accelerating momentum up to 90 kms per hour at the short distance. During chasing of swift-footed catch it is practically out of competition.
At the lupardus there is small head with short muzzle. Jaws of the animal are rather short, but strong, with moderately long canines. Eyes are directed forward and provide good three-dimensional sight. The nasal cavity is short, but wide, and mucous membrane forms inside it numerous plicas. It considerably aggravates sense of smell of predator.
During intensive muscular work the animal is exposed to serious danger of overheat. The lupardus partly escapes from it due to fragile constitution, but it has also extra for cooling – very wide ears similar to ears of some desert foxes. When the lupardus chases catch, blood vessels penetrating ears, dilate, and excessive heat dissipates. Big auricles provide to the lupardus good hearing, that is especially important at hunting for small catch in high grass, where the visibility is bad.
Skin of the lupardus is colored light rusty with thin close black cross strips. This colouring resembles a little “tiger-like” colour of some breeds of domestic dogs. Legs of lupardus are dark; strips are not expressed on them. Internal side of wide ears is grey, but on external side of ear there is the big white spot edged with black wool. When lupardus is turned by muzzle directly to catch, its prey does not see the predator on the background of grass, but congeners standing behind perfectly notice white spots on its ears.
The basic catch of luparduses is deermara – the running rodent of South-American origin similar to small antelope. Except for them these predators hunt large flightless ostrich turkeys. Less often luparduses attack larger animals of American plains: donkeyhorses and young peccasons. At lack of large prey lupardus eats small animals: rodents, lizards and snakes. Usually it avoids to hunt among bushes or in high grass, preferring plains where grass is short because numerous herbivores eat and tramble it. Tracking down its catch, lupardus relies first of all on sharp sight; therefore for it the good field of view is important. Besides the high grass complicates run, and animal simply may fall, having hooked for stalks and having injured its legs. Having caught up prey, luparduses put to it strong bites in sides and hips, trying to pull out a piece of meat. With each such wound animal weakens more and more, and soon it falls, becoming catch of predators.
Swift-footed animals have one general feature: they get tired very quickly, and can not accelerate the maximal speed for a long time. Lupardus has the same feature, but it easily compensates such lack by other features of behaviour. As against cats and pardinias, and similarly to zibetonyx, it is packing hunter. Luparduses lead the chasing of catch by organized way, and in pack always there are animals, ready to join chasing. The pack of luparduses cuts the selected catch from the common herd, and drives it up to exhaustion. Thus hunting animals arrange ambushes, lining up. Herbivores cut from herd are “transferred” by hunters from one to another. In this case the prey is every time chased by all new animals, and by the end of chasing it is literally ready to fall down of tiredness.
Such hunting tactics can not be organized without close interaction between members of clan. Outside of hunting lupardus is the sociable family animal closely communicating with congeners. Similarly to other canids, lupardus uses for communication a tail with a white tip. By position of tail and ears animal expresses emotion and shows the mood. The clan is ruled by main pair in which the male is mainer than the female. Dominant male rules all males in clan and all females submit to the main female. Youngest animals are outside of the common hierarchy: the relation to cubs at luparduses is the most gentle and touching. Each female twice per one year brings posterity: up to three – four clumsy long-legged puppies. They differ from adult animals in black colouring, and it forces even dominants to suffer all their children's pranks.
The grown up animals also outside of hierarchy, but for other reason: they are driven off by adult animals, and young, but not developed to the full, animals lead hard life, eating scraps. Gradually they study to hunt. It occurs during the big hunting for large prey. In the beginning young animals are on supporting parts, and then most capable of them quickly rise on a scale of ranks up to the high position. And once any young strong lupardus will overthrow the leader, proving its own hunting abilities.

Nearctic hyena-toother (Neohyaenognathus macrodens)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: cold and temperate areas of North America, various landscapes – from plains up to deciduous and coniferous woods.

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Canids are one of ancient groups of predators. They had made great progress at flat landscapes being habitat of numerous herbivores. In Neocene their destiny was changeable: having reached short-term success at plains of ice age, canids had conceded their positions to other groups of predators better adapted for woody districts and bushes. In such conditions canids had kept in very small amount. Besides number of many species had been undermined by people, and they had not gone through climatic cataclysms at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene. But some species managed to survive.
In North America descendants of coyote (Canis latrans) had achieved the great success in struggle for existence. Coyotes had got the big advantage from the neighbourhood with people, having expanded the area and having got rid from wolf, their main competitor. Possible, in first time after human disappearance hybridization of coyote and descendants of domestic dogs took place; it had resulted in enrichment of genetic information of new species becoming ancestors Neocenic of North-American canids. Besides preservation of canids in Neocene was promoted by geography of continent. Prairies formed in “wind shadow” of Rocky Mountains, had continued the existence in Neocene. They became the house for swift-footed herbivorous mammals and “range” for occurrence of new species of canids. Among them two lines separated, leading radically differing habit of life. One line of canids is represented by swift-footed packing predator lupardus, and another one is occupied with massive animal specializing to feeding by large catch – Nearctic hyena-toother.
Hyena-toother has occupied a convenient ecological niche of scavenger and large prey hunter. Other representatives of American predators - large cat balam and packing swift-footed canid lupardus catch small and swift-footed animals. But huge peccasons, giant pigs of American prairies, are too large and strong for them. But hyena-toothers are able to overcome such strong herbivore. This predator lives in small packs (up to 10 – 12 individuals) consisting of dominant pair and several subordinated pairs: they succeed to overcome large catch due to harmonious actions. However, they easily snatch catch away at other predators of prairies. This species effectively consumes large catch: after feast of pack of hyena-toothers only tears of skin, jaws and leg bones remain from catch. Other parts of prey are eaten completely.
Hyena-toother is a sizable predator (height at a shoulder is more than 1 meter) of massive constitution: the adult animal weighs up to 300 kg. It is similar to large and rather short-legged dog. Shoulders of animal are little bit higher than waist, and back of animal is sloping. Colouring of animals strongly varies: from light grey and even yellowish in southern and southwest areas up to grey with black back and almost completely black at the north.
Paws of hyena-toother are rather short, animal can not run fast and for a long time, accelerating maximal speed about 40 kms per hour. Toes of this animal are thick and short, and hyena-toother looks almost plantigrade. Not able to run fast, it swims well and easily walks on marshy ground due to wide feet. Often hyena-toothers preys swift-footed herbivores, pushing them to lakes and swamps and chasing them on fenny ground.
Jaws of hyena-toother are adapted to feeding in carrion and crushing bones of large animals: they are short and high, with powerful molars. Canines are big (especially at males: it is an attribute of a sexual dimorphism) and thick, with powerful bases. Tips of canines jut out from closed mouth of predator. But at some external similarity to sabertooth cats it is not their analogue by the habit of prey killing. If sabertooth cats operated by canines as by daggers, hyena-toother operates by them differently: it puts by canines shallow lacerations after which catch bleeds profusely.
Eyes of animal are small: sight of hyena-toother is rather weak; it badly distinguishes colors. But the hearing and sense of smell at it are excellently advanced. Also at hyena-toother there is high and wide nasal cavity, and olfactory epithelium forms longitudinal plicas. Ears of animal are big, rounded and mobile.
During search of catch hyena-toothers support contact with each other with the help of movements of tail with white hairy brush on the tip. When animals do not hunt, they actively use sounds for communication: hyena-toothers howl, declaring rights of clan to the territory, and also growl and whimper, expressing the mood. Puppies can bark, but adult animals lose this ability.
The social habit of life gives big advantages to the hyena-toother in hunting for large herbivores. Animals of different clans develop special tactics of hunting for large animals which transfers from generation to generation. Usually hyena-toothers choose the most perspective catch in herd of herbivores– usually it is young or rather old animal. They rush into herd, separate the planned victim from the common herd and drive it up to exhaustion. Hyena-toothers are not able to run quickly; therefore they drive prey, walking behind it. They have special places for killing catch where animals prefer to make decisive throw and to eat catch. Usually for these purposes places fare chosen, from which it is more convenient to reach lair and cubs.
At the period of hunting the young growth is looked after by old animals of clan. Usually young animals start to accompany with adults approximately from four-monthly age. Young males usually remain in parental clan at subordinated roles with strict hierarchy, and females either pass to other clans, or form their own one, which is leading by the male come from other clan.
Distribution of hyena-toother in North America to the south is limited by the border of temperate climatic zone. This animal is too massive; that’s why it badly tolerates heat. Therefore at Mexican plateau it is replaced by other American scavenger – marsupial hyaena (Phascohyaena tigrina), the specialized predatory descendant of the opossum.

Atshehaske, Great saber-toothed coyote (Smilodonocyon regius)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: North America – lake coasts and riverbanks, wet grassy sites of prairies and meadows.

Picture by Pavel Volkov

Coyote (Canis latrans) was one of the most successful predators of North America in late Holocene epoch. In Neocene coyote descendants had radiated to numerous species of predators of New and Old World. Among them Nearctic hyena-toother (Neohyaenognathus macrodens) is remarkable – it is huge canid having the certain features of saber teeth. Hyena-toothers did not become true saber-toothed predators, because during the evolution process they had adapted to carrion eating. But one canid descended from the same ancestors as hyena-toother turned to the real saber-toothed predator. It is atshehaske, huge saber-toothed coyot. The name “atshehaske” descends from Great Coyote – the Supreme deity of Havajo Indians. Like its “divine namesake” atshehaske differs in complex behaviour – this predator has remarkable cunning, insidiousness and nasty customs. The Latin name of species means “regal saber-toothed dog” and emphasizes appearance of this animal as well as possible.
Atshehaske is extraordinary beautiful and majestic animal. It is built lighter, rather than hyena-toother (the maximal weight of atshehaske does not exceed 150 kg.), and has more graceful proportions. The reddish skin of atshehaske is patterned with beautiful spots and strips of yellowish-grey, brownish and black colors. Males have beautiful yellowish-grey shabrack with reddish shade, and females lack of it. On paws there are cross strips breaking to separate spots on shoulders and hips. Tail is short enough, but fluffy, with black tip. Like hyena-toother, atshehaske has sloping back, but on the whole its constitution is much more graceful. Muzzle of atshehaske is rather short. The extended obverse part of a muzzle characteristic for coyotes evolved to rather massive forward part of the lower jaw. The upper jaw smoothly passes into powerful and strong forehead. Prominent feature of the upper jaw is the presence of huge canines – up to 25 cm long at males and up to 20 cm at females. Animal has large enough peaked ears on which tips there are beautiful brushes of yellowish-grey fur. In the whole, despite of low, flat and massive forehead, atshehaske is rather majestic animal.
On a way of hunting atshehaske is the real analogue of extinct large saber-toothed cats. It is an ambush hunter for large prey, unting in small groups. Attacking its prey atshehaske knocks it down and puts a bite. The predator uses canines as daggers – at the moment of bite in neck of prey canines of atshehaske simultaneously injure the large blood vessels carrying blood to brain and block respiratory ways. Prey dies from asphyxia and the termination of blood supply of brain. One more way of prey killing is putting large deep wounds in prey's belly, that causes fast death from bleeding. Atshehaske hunts most effectively in thickets of grass at riverbanks and shores of lakes where large mammals come to watering place.
Atshehaske is a social species, like the most part of canid species, and lives in clans united by consanguinity (usually patrilineal). Each clan jealously protects the hunting territory, marking its borders with urine. The courtship season begins in winter. At this time males gather near the lair of female ready to pairing, and arrange severe duels for the right of pairing. They do not use canines against contenders, but tear skin of each other by incisors, pulling out large pieces of wool and skin. But direct skirmish of competing males happens rather seldom. Usually duels are limited to demonstration of canines and an exchange of ritual poses. After pairing male stays with the female and in common they build a lair – wide hole under roots of tree. Animals also frequently occupy caves of natural origin. Male feeds up the female and stays with her until while his puppies will become independent. In litter it may be up to 3 – 4 puppies which will become independent hunters at the age of approximately one and half years. After posterity rearing the female has the year long break in breeding, and at this time male can couple to another female.
Life expectancy of atshehaske makes about 30 years.
This species of canids in Neocene is at the edge of extinction due to rather recent occurrence in their area of saber-toothed cat missopeho, the large predator. Populations of atshehaske are isolated also, and gene exchange between them proceeds slowly. Therefore small populations quickly degenerate because of inbreeding depressions. The most successful populations of this species live in Rocky Mountains and in mixed forests of the north. The large population lives in Appalachian Mountains, and along the northern border of prairies this species is present as small isolated populations. In significant area of northern forests this species was superseded by missopeho.

This species of mammals was discovered by Odin, the forum member.

Common xolot (Anconocyon pratensis)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: North America, meadows and prairies.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Coyote (Canis latrans) was one of the most successful predators of North America. In human epoch it had considerably expanded an area and had partly replaced wolf strongly exterminated at that time. Due to smaller size and variability of behaviour this species had freely adapted to life in anthropogenous landscape. After human disappearance coyote had kept the positions occupied in nature and had fixed its success, having penetrated along Beringian Isthmus to Old World. In North America coyote descendants evolved to animals looking unlike each other such as swift-footed gracile lupardus (Lupardus tenuis) and the hyena-toother (Neohyaenognathus macrodens), massive carrion devourer. But, undoubtedly, the most exotic and deviated descendant of coyote is xolot – the unusual underground coyote kind. The name “xolot” descends from the name of Xolotl – Aztec “coyote-headed” god of underground world.
There are some species of this animal living in North America. Common xolot is the most widespread among them. Common xolots inhabit meadows and prairies far from large rivers where there is no danger of flooding. They lead substantially underground habit of life and settle in small colonies in burrow systems dug out in prairies by large rodents. Xolots are omnivores with significant inclination to carnivory, and their food is diverse; they eat food of animal origin (ground birds, lizards, and also rodents – “builders” of their burrows) and vegetative food (roots and tubers of plants, young leaves and unripe seeds of graminoids). Though they rather frequently eat rodents in which holes they settle, xolots do not cause irreparable damage to colonies of rodents. Besides they rather jealously relate to their own territory, and do not let other predators to their home area. Therefore residing of xolots in holes of rodents is favourable for rodents to some extent. Though xolots attack them, they also simultaneously protect them from other predators. Damage caused by xolots to rodents is much less than possible damage other predators can cause to these rodents. Thus, between predatory xolots and their neighbours the certain biological balance is observed.
Common xolot is a medium-sized animal: its length including tail reaches 60 – 70 cm. The fur of this animal is short, rich and velvety, that interferes with its dirtying with ground and sand. Colouring of fur is light enough – usually it has bright sandy color, but there are individual deviations from grey and white up to red and yellow color. Paws of animal are strong, rather short and slightly bent. Xolot runs in its burrows and if necessary can easily dig out its own holes or expand already existing ones. The body of this animal is extended, and ears are rather big and wide, that is obviously atypical for burrowing animal. Anatomic feature of xolots as of separate genus is the presence in their ear of additional skinny membrane which simultaneously improves hearing and protects ear ducts from the ingress of sand and ground. Besides the auricle at underground movement turns back so that dust did not get into acoustic duct. Sight at xolots is rather weak, but the hearing and sense of smell are perfectly advanced. At night xolots go to the ground surface and feed on small animals and berries. They usually get roots and tubers during the tunnel digging.
Xolots live in small colonies numbering up to 10 – 15 individuals, consisting of breeding couple and their posterity. As a rule, males remain in group, and females leave it to settle in other place when reaching sexual maturity. They prefer to move to other colonies, using holes of rodents. These animals are afraid of bright sunlight, and if they appear on ground surface during the resettlement, they try to find any casual shelter.
The female brings posterity once a year. To give birth it arranges shelter in deep and well protected hole. Litter in shelter is made of rests of skins of prey or flocks of furs; the female adds to it a little portion of grass. For disinfection the female brings into the hole bunches of wormwood greenery and other odorous grasses, in order to get rid of parasites. In litter it may be up to 6 – 9 puppies. They remain in shelter during first two months, gradually surveying holes in vicinities of their home. Young animals become sexually mature at the age of one and half years. Life expectancy is about 15 – 16 years.
In foothills of Rocky Mountains other two species of xolot live – nimble xolot (Anconocyon alacer) and mantled xolot (Anconocyon stragulumornatus), distinguished in smaller size and darker colouring. Males of mantled xolot have clearly expressed shabrack of reddish-grey color on back; females lack of it. As against to others xolots, sight at mantled xolot is better advanced, rather than at other representatives of genus.
At Pacific coast of North America false xolot (Subterracyon occidentalis) lives. It is also the coyote descendant, but it evolved independently of “true” xolots. False xolot is a bright example of convergent evolution. As against “true” xolots, false xolot has rather small ears, an additional membrane in ear is absent, and for protection against ingress of ground the auricle can fold lengthways with the help of special muscle. This species is a predator and builds holes independently, not using rodent colonies for the purposes. This species has strong forepaws on which the second and third fingers are armed with larger claws, than the others.

This species of mammals was discovered by Odin, the forum member.

Tsitsu, the wild hound (Neocanis tsitsu)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: steppe areas of Europe.

Picture by Lambert

Descendants of coyote (Canis latrans) have given rise to numerous Neocene predators of both Americas. But right at the beginning of Neocene congelation coyotes had penetrated into Eurasia through Beringia. At the end of Holocene only Bering Strait prevented coyotes to begin a gain of Eurasia, and at early stages of congelation when the ocean level had gone down, but Beringia had not completely disappeared yet under glacier shield, coyotes realized the opportunity opened to them and had intruded Old World from the east. As against their American relatives, the destiny of Euroasian coyote descendants was changeable. Having reached short-term success during Neocene congelation when they had widespreaded practically across the whole Eurasia, after climate change they were in the majority superseded by descendants of local predators and partly newcomers from the south. But coyote descendants had confidently reserved for themselves one climatic zone of Eurasia – steppes of Southern Europe and Three-Rivers-Land where wild hound tsitsu lives, a swift-footed canid species of gracile constitution.
In steppes of Eurasia tsitsu occupies the ecological niche similar to occupied by African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus) in African savannas at the end of Holocene. If to be exact, tsitsu is the coyote descendant not in full degree: they descend not only from it. Hybridization as a way of speciation is rare phenomenon in nature, but it also takes place. The majority of Holocene representatives of Canis genus (except for black-backed and side-striped jackals) had identical number of chromosomes and was able to interbreeding (interspecific hybridization). Tsitsu has polyphyletic origin. The basis of tsitsu ancestral line is made of Alaskan coyote (Canis latrans incolatus) descendants, but among tsitsu ancestors there were also feral descendants of domestic dog (C. familiaris), and also descendants of Asian jackal (C. aureus).
Tsitsu is highly social pack hunters. The average number of individuals in one tsitsu pack changes from 70 up to 90 individuals (not including pups), the record number of individuals in pack can make 146 adult individuals. Each pack controls an area of approximately from one and half to two thousand square kilometers. There are two subspecies of tsitsu, one (N. t. europaeus) of which lives in Southern Europe, and another (N. t. rufus) inhabits Three-Rivers-Land. Subspecies differ in colouration. N. t. rufus has “standard coyote” monophonic reddish color while yellowish-red skin of N. t. europaeus is speckled with spots and small strips of white and grey colors which help this animal to be imperceptible in grass. In winter the wool turns denser and lighter a little. Tail is reddish with black tip; its position is used by these canids for communication and expression of emotional condition. Ears are big and pointed; paws are narrow. Canines are rather long, much longer than at Holocene coyote.
Tsitsu is medium-sized animal. In dimensions it approximately corresponds to polar subspecies of Holocene coyote. Weight of males makes about 20 kg, females are about 16 – 17 kg. Despite of the dimensions, packs of swift-footed (developing speed up to 75 - 80 kms per hour in jerk and able to hold speed of 60 kms per hour for a long time) tsitsu easily hunt animals like harelopes and porcippulas. Also tsitsu actively compete to other species of carnivores, for example, with zibetonyx. Due to superiority in strength they frequently take off prey of other predators. Even large predators finding themselves in position “two or three against hundred” are compelled to concede the prey to aggressively attacking tsitsu pack.
Similarly to Holocene hunting dogs tsitsu nurse even old and ill individuals, bringing food to them. The pack lives in the wast territory, but in the evening after hunting adult individuals hasten to shelter – colony numbering up to several tens of holes dug in soft ground. These dogs rear young growth in holes, and individuals do not take part in hunting – old or injured animals – look after posterity. For communication at the large distances tsitsu uses sounds. The sound repertoir of tsitsu is diverse and includes howl and bark of varying tonality and duration, and also yelping and growl. A characteristic sound of night steppe is thin shrilly howling of the whole tsitsu pack.
Speed used in hunting has the return side – the organism of fast runner is used up in greater degree. Average life expectancy of tsitsu is about 15 years, but usually it is much less.

This species of mammals was discovered by Odin, the forum member.

Chootie (Chuti chuti)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: salt swamps of Mediterranean lowlands.

Collage by Odin

For many mammals hot salt swamps have arisen in saline desert replaced former Mediterranean Sea are the most improper place for life. Any unadapted animal casually got in these places is doomed for death within several days. In border areas of Mediterranean swamps frequently there are corpses animal, lost from thirst and overheat. Salt can keep their bodies for long years, impregnating them when wind wears out the dead animals with salty sand and dust. But some mammals could adapt to these severe conditions, and there are even species prospering in this inhospitable environment. Usually rodents make the majority among champions on survival, but representatives of predatory mammals also live in severe desert at the border between Europe and Africa. They are descendants of the fennec fox (Vulpes zerda), the small big-eared fox. This tiny Holocene canid, at which the significant part of diet was made with insects, was perfectly adapted to survival in extreme conditions of critical shortage of water resources. Holocene fennec foxes could live without water for some days even in conditions of heated deserts of Holocene North Africa. Therefore right at the beginning of Neocene descendants of fennec fox could colonize droughty open spaces of Mediterranean lowland while the rests of sea still existed in hollow between continents. In due course descendants of fennec fox turned even smaller and passed to completely insectivorous diet, having formed a separate fennecine subfamily (Fennecinae) within canid family. The fennecine subfamily includes one genus Chuti and two species – chootie and adjule. Chootie is a typical species of genus. It is a predator of very unusual shape: a tiny mammal which length does not exceed 12 cm including tail. Thus ears of this one have kept the same proportional size relatively to body size, which was at fennec fox, its far ancestor. Running chootie from apart looks like any rodent, and its belonging to predators can be defined only at more attentive survey.
Chootie has rather short legs in comparison with its ancestor, and shorter tail. Loss of water and overheating are the basic dangers at life in salt desert. Chootie escapes from overheat with the help of wide auricles penetrated with blood vessels and helping to radiate superfluous heat. Its wool is dense and velvety despite of a hot climate in its habitat. Such wool provides protection from overheat to skin of animal. Colouring of chootie is camouflaging – reddish or yellowish. In the populations living in saline soils of Mediterranean hollow, white and light grey color variations are most usual. Chootie avoids loss of water due to habit of life and features of physiology. This animal is active at twilight hours and in dawn time, spends its day in one of regularly visited shelters at its territory, and sleeps within some hours at night in temporary shelters. Kidneys of this animal work very effectively, and urine has very high concentration of nitrogenous substances.
Chootie is extreme cautious mammal relying on sharp hearing and keen sense of smell in detection of danger. Out of breeding period lonely chooties constantly migrate from one small source of fresh water to another. Moreover chootie receive a significant part of moisture from food. The basis of chootie diet is made of insects and other small invertebrates. The liver of animal effectively destroys some poisons of organic origin, therefore chootie can eat poisonous beetles, millipeds and spiders entirely. Chooties become prey of reptiles and birds of prey. Despite of adaptations to life in desert, chootie always faces real danger to die from dehydration. In dust storm animals may simply choke with salty dust if the shelter can not protect them.
The care of posterity at this species is original. At males long fur jabot grows on breast soon after pairing. The wool in this jabot has one feature – at contact to water it is capable to accumulate and keep moisture in significant amount. While the female feeds cubs, male searches for water. At night stones in desert quickly cool down, and to morning plentiful dew accumulates on them. Male literally wallows on surface of stone and creeps on it on belly, carefully absorbing dew by wool. When he comes back to the female and cubs, they lick off this moisture from fur jabot, receiving thus the additional portion of water. Within one year the female has time to draw up to three litters of 4 – 5 cubs in each. Like all animals of small size, chootie grows quickly: the month-aged cub already reaches the size of adult individual and becomes independent. And five month old animals can raise their first litter. More successfully chootie breeds in winter and in the spring when from the Alpes and Atlas Mountains streams flow down to the Mediterranean hollow, and air is damper. In summer animals do not breed, and if the female is pregnant, embryos are “conserved” at the early stage of development, or simply resolve.
Life expectancy of chootie makes about 7 – 8 years.
Also in eastern part of Mediterranean swamps and at the territory of former coast of Asia Minor larger species lives – adjule (Chuti adjule). Its adult males reach the size up to 20 cm. It has similar biology, but can attack small reptiles occasionally. This species always keeps in pairs and lives near to constantly existing sources of water. Colouring of wool is grey with black strip along the back.

This species of mammals is discovered by Odin, the forum member.

Anteater Fox (Neootocyon insectophagus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: southern and eastern Africa, savannas and woodlands.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

The border of Neocene and Holocene epochs was marked with the mass extinction of various animal species and even familles. That included the extinction of Proteles cristatus, unusual predator from southern and north-eastern Africa, who was almost completely insectivorous. The human intervetion and new rivalring species caused the extinction of that insectivorous hyena. But that environmental niche hasn't stayed vacant for too long, as there were several applicants to fill it: in the North Africa it was grumbling ant-mungo from the family closely related to civets, while in the south it was the representative of another carnivorous family – the bigear fox (Otocyon megalotis) descendant – anteater fox.
It's a middle sized animal with thick fur (size varies from 80 cm to 1 m, weight - 6 -10 kg) and relatively long legs which is typical for most open environment animals. Thick fur saves the animal from the ants and termites' "soldiers" bites. Thick and shaggy fur of that animal has relatively monotone brown colour, with just the ears' tips being a bit darker. Nose, chest and neck have extra protection from insects, spiders and scorpions bites- unusualy dense skin. The vulnerable nose has extra protection- a small piece of cornual "armour".Unlike another 'anteaters' (Holocene true anteaters from Edentates Order and pangolines, Neocene echidnas, lizards and wormtonguers) its teeth system isn't reduced- it has plenty of sharp small teeth, resembling insectivors teeth a lot. Being very careful, anteater fox hunts only in twilight and in the night. In the day anteater foxes rest in selfmade holes or in the other animals dens. Very often they share their dens with armor-headed wart hogs for extra protection.
The sensitive ears of anteater fox are inclined a bit forward and down; keen hearing helps it successfully find insects even in deep darkness. Its paws aren't specialized simply for breaking termitarys, so the fox has to vary its diet, adding another invertebtates (beetles, spiders or ants) into it. Also its diet includes eggs and small vertebrates. One of the main alternate food sourses are locusts, who have survived all the ecological disasters on the border of Holocene and Noeocene. Its invasions are comparable to lemming invasions, and as regular in Neocene as it was in Holocene. To the anteater fox, it's just like lemming invasion to polar fox- it "forgets" about hunting in twilight only and hunts for the locust even in the daylight.
Just like their ancestors, anteater fox are monogamous. That is explained by the diet pecularities- they hunt for small preys so the nessesary population density just can't be reached. The female gives birth to 3-7 cubs but not all of them reach senior age, especially in dry lean years, when there's little food and all savannah inhabitants, including large predators, are starving.
The maximal lifetime of anteater fox is 10-15 years.
In the northeastern Africa, where the insectivorous enviromental niche is occupied by other animals, lives the anteater fox relative - coastal fox (Neootocyon oraannona). Its diet includes various seafood- shellfishes, dead fish, mollusks,which they gather during the falling tide. Unlike its southern relative, coastal fox body is more "foxy"- it has shorter legs and smaller ears. The lower part of coastal fox' acoustic duct is protected by skinny valve to prevent water from coming into ears. The fur is short and hydrofuge (especially on lower body half). Despite living at the seashore, coastal fox is not a good swimmer. It prefers to search for its food on the littoral fringe, but sometimes comes to feed before the falling tide ends or stays on the littoral fringe till the rising tide starts. The fur of coastal fox is more light-colored that the one of anteatrer fox- it's yellow with grey shades. The fingers on the paws are mobile and broad-placed, which helps the coastal fox to run on the sand with ease as well as hold its preys. The coastal fox is very careful animal, who is very tolerant to its relatives. Several couples of those anmals can feed on the littoral fringe simultaneously without disturbing each other, and fights rarely happen during the feeding.
The breeding and home life resembles those of an anteater fox. Coastal fox makes its dens at coastal rocks or at the bushes (higher that the highest rising tide mark). The maximal lifespan is around 12 years.

These species are discovered by Bhut ,the forum member.
Translated by Charles.

Lynx fox (Megacyon feliformis)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: North America, forests of temperate zone.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

As against larger wild dogs, such as wolves and African hunting dogs, smaller canid representatives had quite safely gone through both anthropogenous pressure, and climatic changes of the boundary of Holocene and Neocene. These animals – jackals, coyotes, foxes and even small varieties of feral domestic dogs – were successfully fixed in ecological niches of small and medium-sized predators, having caused new species in due course. So, in Siberia waheela, the descendant of polar fox, had evolved and in South America the feral representatives of domestic dogs became wild pack predators again, despite of approximately 16 – 20 thousand years of life near people.
In North America lupardus is one of the largest and widespread wild canids became ecological analogue of cheetahs, running felid representatives. It lives in prairies, but in areas where open spaces are replaced with forests and groves, other canid species live – the descendants of red and grey foxes.
The grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) lived in North and Central America to the south from Canada, and had, as well as other foxes, good amount of hardiness and ecological flexibility. In Neocene, despite of slightly increased pressure from the side of more progressive descendants of red foxes and coyotes, the grey fox quite safely evolved into new canid species – the lynx fox. In forests it occupies the become empty ecological niche of Canadian lynx which had become extinct in Holocene.
Lynx fox is very large animal in canid standards: large самец can reach height of 130 cm rearing on hind legs of about 40 cm long. Weight of animal quite corresponds to growth – large foxes may reach weight of 60 kg: as much, as Euroasian waheela weighs. But, as against waheela, lynx fox can not change wool color in winter and in summer: the year round this animal has silver-gray fur which appreciablly turns white on the tip of tail. At adults males “collar” of pale-yellow fur grows on neck. On back of these animals there is an indistinct spotty pattern. It is clearly expressed at young individuals, and it helps them to escape from predators, hiding among grass and foliage. In course of growth animals lose this pattern, but at the southern borders of the area where more evergreen plants grow and winter is snowless, up to a fourth part of individuals keeps spotty colouring in adult condition, and separate populations include almost exclusively spotty individuals.
The tail of this fox is long and thin – it serves as the balance weight at the movement on trees. Carpal and talocrural joints of animal are mobile and allow to hand and foot to turn on small angle – it helps lynx fox to climb on trees better.
Muzzle of this animal is short and has large canines. However, canines serve mainly for demonstration – the angry animal starts “yawning”, turning to the opponent and widely opening mouth. Auricles are rather large, mobile, peaked, and have small hair brushes on tips.
Despite of the growth and impressive canines, lynx fox has rather peaceful behaviour and is not squeamish in feeding: it is omnivorous and in autumn, in the time of fruiting of wild berries and trees it almost completely passes to vegetative food. It eats the greatest amount of food of animal origin at the end of winter and in early spring when stocks of vegetative forage accessible to this animal are exhausted. At this time lynx fox can even eat carrion. It also has kept abilities of ancestor to tree climbing and is quite capable to find prey and shelter for rest on trees. Forage of animal origin of this animal includes various animals and birds, but especial frequently it hunts hares, as well as its ecological prototype – Canadian lynx. The fox is afraid only of few animals: berls, huge mustelid representatives, and also of missopeho, Neocene American saber-toothed cat. But due to its secretive twilight habit of life and ability to tree climbing lynx fox almost does not face with these predators.
As against others large canids, lynx foxes do not form family groups. Females raise cubs independently; usually there are from 1 to 3 cubs in litter. They meet males only during a courtship season. It takes place at the end of winter; that time males arrange long duels, rising on hind legs. Also the winner male pursues the female for some time, estimating her force and the relation to him. Usually the female shows resistance only right at the beginning of courtship, if the male is pleasant to her. Avoiding male, the female, on the contrary, shows long resistance and tries to come nearer to other males which perceive her persecutor as the contender and attack him.
Voice of lynx fox is long lingering bark which may be heard at the great distance. With the help of voice animal declares rights to territory and calls the courtship partner. Cubs have thin squeaky voice and can utter sounds similar to twittering.
Usual life expectancy of lynx fox is about 10 – 12 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Aoskiar (Megacyon aoskiar)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: deciduous forests and woodlands of North America.
By the beginning of the Neocene representatives of North American canids were represented for the most part by descendants of the coyote (Canis latrans) of the Holocene, by predators of medium and large sizes. The only exceptions are waheela, a descendant of the arctic fox, and various descendants of grey fox (Urocyon cineroargenteus), one of the most unusual canids of the Holocene. One of its descendants, the lynx fox (Megacyon feliformis), has changed relatively little and in many respects is similar to its ancestor, only changed by its larger size. But another descendant of the gray fox, the aoskiar, is markedly different in its appearance, as well as behavior.
The aoskiar is quite a large beast: the height of an adult at the shoulder is about 90 cm, a body length of about five feet, and a tail length of about half a meter. In its proportions this animal resembles a beagle dog, and only the head, and especially the whiskers and ears, retain the features of a “portrait likeness” to the fox’s ones. Its eyes are greenish-yellow, its eyebrows are bushy and light colored, at a sexually mature male on the neck a thick “beard” grows. The hair color is usually gray, almost monochromatic, lighter on the belly. Northern populations of aoskiars differ in darker hair compared to southern ones; sometimes some of them are melanistic. In southern populations “blondes” having straw-yellow hair are occasionally found.
The aoskiar is a terrestrial carnivorous mammal that eats very little amount of plant food, unlike the related lynx fox. It has weak jaws, not adapted for chewing, but armed with teeth with sharp cutting edges. It is an active predator that can hunt for a variety of prey. Its diet consists of small and medium-sized rodents, lagomorphs, juvenile ungulates, terrestrial birds and their chicks, frogs, small non-venomous snakes and lizards, various insects and carrion. Due to the light constitution and good running abilities this animal is capable of preying on the swiftest animals, driving them to exhaustion. In this regard, the competitor of the aoskiar is the lupardus, but these two species rarely compete as the aoskiar is larger and preys on larger animals. In addition, the aoskiar prefers a “mosaic” landscape with thickets of shrubs and trees, while the lupardus inhabits plains, overgrown with grassy. Aoskiars themselves are often victims of waheelas, berls and other predators which ravage their dens.
Aoskiars live alone or in pairs or small packs (3-8 individuals) whose members are usually connected by family relationships. They hunt large prey, combining hunting from an ambush with a running hunt – one animal drives prey towards others, hidden in an ambush. Family life of aoskiars takes place in a den (usually a wide burrow or a hole under the roots of a tree), where adults raise pups (there are typically 2-4 puppies in litter). Both parents take care to puppies, and sometimes they are helped by “nurse”, the grown up cub of the previous litter or a subordinate female (usually the sister of dominant one).
Aoskiars are usually monogamous, but sometimes one male has two or three females. In this case, offspring appear only at one dominant female. The struggle for the establishment of domination relations occurs only if the females are unrelated to each other. Courtship at aoskiars occurs in late winter, and the posterity is born a few months later at the beginning of summer.
Aoskiars are cautious animals, when they meet with enemies they prefer not to fight, but to hide in the forest or scrub. They enter an open confrontation only when there is a threat to their offspring, and inflict deep bites on the aggressor. The adaptation to rapid running largely affects the physiology of animals: due to frequent exposure to intense physical stress the life expectancy of an aoskiar is no more than 8 – 10 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Translated by FanboyPhilosopher.

African tufted fox (Dromovulpes africanus)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Canids (Canidae)

Habitat: North Africa, savannas and woodlands.
During Holocene epoch the common red fox (Vulpes vulpes) lived in northern hemisphere everywhere from Europe through Asia up to North America, being one of the most widespread smaller canids. Its well-being was directly connected to anthropogenous pressure which had destroyed or strongly reduced number of larger predators, having given to foxes more freedom for existence and having given new habitats. Red fox existed successfully in landscapes changed by people that had allowed it to keep large number and wide area.
But the situation had changed in Neocene. People had disappeared, and red foxes had lost the advantages connected to development of anthropogenous landscapes. Some waves of ice ages had thrown heat-loving foxes farther to equator therefore this species of animals had disappeared in New World absolutely, and in Old World it had conceded northern part of the area to polar foxes and to waheelas, their descendants. But in new habitat – in Africa and southern Asia – foxes had quite accustomed, had evolved to new species and even had returned to Europe as it was made by grass fox, solitary running predator of savannas and woodlands. But nevertheless it is a rare case – the majority of its relatives lives in warmer parts of the world.
African tufted fox is a species related to grass fox, but distinguished from it with a number of anatomy and behaviour features. First, it hunts not only alone, but also in pairs. In this case one animal exhausts prey, and the second one jumps out from an ambush for it and puts the final impact. Sometimes the grown up cubs help thus to parents and at the same time study hunting methods. However, as against the grass fox, tufted fox usually accelerates speed no more than 18 – 20 kms per hour, but at the same time it has the great endurance and is able to pursue prey for a long time. Moreover, rear legs are longer and stronger a little bit than front ones, and it allows the fox to jump on stones and low-growing trees having curved trunk in order to leave from a pursuit or to catch small prey.
Second, tufted fox is colored conservatively enough. It has monophonic sandy color (there are also darker individuals) with lighter belly and tail tip, and also with dark “stockings” on legs. Males additionally grow a crest or a forelock – a bunch of longer and rigid hair on head between ears, which condition shows age, health and force of its owner. At females wool on head is only slightly lengthened, and only at the strongest and most aggressive individuals testosterone surplus results in formation of small hair cop.
Tufted fox is an omnivore. It usually eats carrion, and also various rodents – down to cubs of huge grasscutter rats. Attacking less dangerous animals, like kangoohoppers, this animal can chase also healthy adults. Steppe harelopes especially suffer from it – tufted foxes eats more than 20 % of their young growth, despite of all attempts of parents to protect the posterity. Usually hunting foxes separate young animal from herd and drive it in savanna, not allowing it to have a rest. After one hour of such pursuit one of animals snatches on it and kills, biting through the neck. Also tufted fox ravages nests of small birds and eats various reptiles, but at the same time willingly eats various ripe fruit and graminoids at the stage of milky ripeness.
At the same time tufted foxes are objects of hunting of larger predators. Crocoturtle sometimes catches them at the watering place whereas barbed herzogcats sometimes purposefully hunt these animals, considering them as food competitors and danger to their posterity. Tufted fox prefers to avoid furiobaboons and other monkeys living in groups though sometimes the strong individual can kill the young monkey. But in this case foxes quickly leave a place of hunting as the flight of monkeys represents force which is insuperable for foxes.
Tufted foxes breed once a year, from December to January. Female’s heat lasts for some weeks. The animal notifies on readiness for pairing by the shrill squeal which is a little bit distinct from usual bark of these animals. The voice of the female involves several males. They actively compete for the right of pairing; showing the crests to each other in the beginning, and then rising on hind legs and “boxing” by front legs to each other’s muzzle. The strongest and hardiest animal wins, as a rule. If male has found the female in loneliness, pairing usually begins after long and persevering courtship when male cajoles the female actively, and sings the “serenade” to her, uttering the sounds similar to grumble and cooing.
In some weeks after pairing the female brings posterity – from 5 up to 10 cubs. They are born small, almost blind and covered with white-yellow fur, but within several weeks at them eyes open and teeth start to appear. At bi-monthly age cubs leave shelter and start to learn the world around. At the age of half-year they are already capable to follow parents for hunting, and by the end of the first year of life they are already quite independent. At the second year of life the female brings posterity the first time. General life expectancy of tufted foxes is from 8 up to 13 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Giant tanooka (Tanuka gigantea)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Bear-like dogs (Prolesnyctereuteidae)

Habitat: Siberia, Altai, Northern Europe.

Picture by Amplion

At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene the mass extinction took place. It had influence at plenty of animals and was caused by human activity and reduction of territories, suitable for existence of normal populations of large animals. Bears also had died out. In Neocene animals of other families started to occupy an ecological niche of bears. In Southern Asia their place was occupied by viverrid descendants and in Central and East Europe by bearaccoons, descendants of raccoons. At the north of Holarctic niche of bears was occupied by large mustelids, berls, and also by animals of new Neocene family of carnivores – bear-like dogs (Prolesnyctereuteidae) separated from true canids. An ancestor of this family was a raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), medium-sized unpretentious omnivorous canid. Eventually descendants of raccoon dogs had grown larger. Similarly to their ancestors, raccoon dogs (and also similarly to bears), the majority of bear-like dogs run into hibernation; this feature has allowed them to settle at the north of Eurasia remarkable in severe snowy winter. The family includes one genus (Tanuka) and two species. The largest species is giant tanooka. The weight of females usually reaches 500 kg, males – up to 600 kg; some individuals in northern part of area can grow to 800 kg. Thus, giant tanooka can compete to South African awfulest marafil for the right to be named as “the largest representative of carnivores order in Neocene”.
By appearance giant tanooka resembles a hybrid between bear and fossil predator Amphicyon. Because of rather short fingers and toes animal looks almost plantigrade. Fur of tanooka is brownish, spotted with numerous albesent and black spots on sides, shoulders and hips. Animal has very big claws, but, similarly to the ancestors, raccoon dogs, tanooka can not climb up trees. This animal runs slowly, but can make far passages for food within the borders of its territory.
Similarly to Holocene bears, giant tanooka is an omnivore actively consuming both vegetative and animal food. In spite of the fact that giant tanooka is a predator nevertheless, it prefers not to hunt itself, but to play a role of scavenger or to take off prey of other predators. Giant tanookas very often track down Siberian sabertoothes, but not as prey, but as original “suppliers” of food. After their successful hunting tanooka eats up numerous uneaten rests of their prey. Frequently (especially in autumn, right before hibernation) giant tanookas attack waheela packs, taking off their prey. If the autumn was poor in food, tanooka trying to take prey may risk and attack even the lonely berl. As against the berl, giant tanooka is active only in rather warm season. In winter, similarly to its ancestor, raccoon dog, giant tanooka runs into hibernation. In spite of the fact that giant tanooka is heavier than berl, it is not a dominant predator because of three factors: first, its population is extremely rarefied (the average territory controlled by one individual is about 2 – 3 thousand square kilometers), second, in winter it runs into hibernation, and, thirdly, tanooka is more omnivorous scavenger, rather than active predator. Besides in summer and in autumn more than 60 % of its diet the vegetable food makes. The main contender of giant tanooka is berl. Tanooka does not bear the presence of berl in its territory and relates to it agressively: it will try to banish berl, using the size and force, and also to kill it if the opportunity will appear. In a case if tanooka meets berl female with cubs, it will try to kill cubs by all means, despite of all attempts of berl female to protect them. In such situation tanooka will attack berl cubs and female protecting them, despite of repulse which large predator can render it. In winter the situation frequently changes to opposite one. From time to time berls attack tanookas in hibernation condition right in their dens. To tell the truth, it finishes with berl victory not always. Winter sleeping of tanooka is not too deep, more similar to bear ibernation. If tanooka will have time to wake up during such attack, it will kill or will seriously cripple the attacking berl most likely.
Because of great rarefaction of populations at giant tanooka the original courtship behaviour had evolved. Closer to approach of courtship season tanooka males actively mark borders of their territory with extremely odorous labels. To breeding season urine of tanooka males gets very proof and pungent smell which is gradually spreaded to many tens kilometers, and the marks left in winter continue intensive smelling even at the beginning of summer. Females find males using smell due to very keen sense of smell. Heat proceeds intensively at the female, and the female stays ready to pairing within several days in succession. It is enough to her to find a male ready to pairing. Heat at any individual tanooka female happens alternate years, at the end of winter.
Pregnancy lasts within about three months. The female gives rise up to five cubs, but usually it happens three or four of them. From the big litter only two cubs may survive to approach of independence, and per lean years only one may stay alive. To autumn young animals reach weight 90 – 100 kg. They will spend the first winter of their life with mother, and young females sometimes remain with her for the second winter and leave mother when new heat starts at her.
Life expectancy of giant tanooka is about 45 – 50 years.
At the Far East and in mountains of Central Asia this species is replaced by mountain tanooka (Tanuka monticola). It differs in smaller size (weight of adult individual does not exceed 350 kg), richer winter fur, which is colored lighter, rather then summer one, and annual breeding. This species is more herbivorous (the vegetative food makes up to 70% of a diet), and prefers small vertebrates, insects and carrion from food of animal origin. Mountain tanooka is more mobile, easily swarms up abrupt slopes and walks on narrow mountain tracks.

This species of mammals was discovered by Odin, the forum member.

Flag-tailed pampanasua (Pampanasua vexillicauda)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Raccoons (Procyonidae)

Habitat: pampas of South America.

Picture by Timothy Morris

In Neocene Atlantic Ocean had continued to extend, and, as if a wedge, had separated North and South Americas, having broken off isthmus of Panama. South America has moved little bit closer to South Pole, and it has resulted in expansion of temperate climate area and pampas – plain areas covered with grassy vegetation. In pampas herds of large animals wander – huge tapirotheriums, descendants of tapirs little bit similar to elephants, deermaras and giant paca – cursorial caviomorph rodents. They are pursued by hunting heron, large flightless bird, and also by acatou – the heaviest flying bird of the world. Among smaller animals inhabiting pampas, rodents, armadilloes (including rather large species) and numerous birds are characteristic. Among South American inhabitants of pampas monkeys are lack – not so numerous ground New World monkeys prefer to stay in woody regions and bushes. Original pampas analogue of baboons and other ground monkeys of Old World is the representative of raccoon family adapted to life in grassy plains – flag-tailed pampanasua. It is the descendant of one species of coatimundi (Nasua), successfully adapted to life in forestless areas after disappearance of significant part of South American forests as a result of human activity.
Compared to its ancestors, pampanasua has changed in significant degree. It is long-legged animal of gracile constitution about 60 cm high at a shoulder; body length of adult individual is up to 70 cm, not including tail. The body of pampanasua is covered with rusty-red wool with small dark spots on back and sides. Muzzle is long and has a mobile nose and well advanced olfactory chambers. Due to keen sense of smell pampanasua easily finds insect larvae and edible parts of plants under ground at the depth of about 20 cm.
Fingers of animal are short, but mobile, and claws are blunt: this animal swarms up trees worse, rather than its ancestor, and spends almost whole life in open areas where it moves on four paws more often. In order to look around pampanasua can rear on hind legs and keep vertical position within several minutes. For recognition of relatives this animal has contrast marks on muzzle: forward part of muzzle is white with black “glasses” around of eyes. The size of these “glasses” depends on testosterone content in blood, and at dominant males they are especially large. The size of marks allows quickly establishing of hierarchical relations, not resorting to combat. Males have long canines which tips stick out of the closed mouth. Defending itself from the enemy, pampanasua puts very painful bites.
Ears of pampanasua are long and have white hair brushes on tips. Auricles serve for removal of superfluous heat from organism.
Pampanasua lives the groups numbering up to 20 members – males and females of various ages. Animals communicate with each other with the help of various sounds – hissing, snorting, cooing and grunting. For communication with congeners at the long distance this species uses tail reaching 1 meter length. In the basis of tail pale cross-sriped pattern is visible, and on the tip the one-sided brush of lengthened hair of white color is developed; tail tip is black. In rest animal holds tail vertically and its movements are smooth. Quivering tail is the feature of alert animal. Usually animals signal this way to each other about snake found out. Pampanasua submits alarm signal in the voice – it is a series of abrupt shrill sounds similar to bark of small dog.
Usually pampanasua moves on the ground, but also can clamber on trees. The main enemies of these animals are hunting herons. Pampanasua hides from them, dropping to the ground and drawing tail in, or getting on trees. The group can frighten off a medium-sized single predator with menacing demonstrations.
Pampanasua is omnivorous and equally willingly eats food of vegetative and animal origin. Animals dig out tubers and bulbs, eat sapful bases of leaves of grasses, young shoots of bushes. Among food of animal origin pampanasua prefers insects, small reptiles and nestlings of ground birds. Frequently the group of pampanasua keeps near to large rodents and tapirotheres, and catch near them frightened insects and small reptiles. Due to keen sight and good hearing pampanasua right in time distinguishes approaching of enemies and warns large animals of their occurrence.
Twice per one year the female gives rise to one or two cubs. As this species leads migrating habit of life and does not build long-term shelters, the female must carry her posterity herself. The cub is born blind and covered with short wool. Right after birth it is able to cling to wool of mother and to twist her tail with its one. Due to it cub does not fall on the ground even if the female darts off sharply. Cub’s eyes open at week age, and at the age of one month young animals spend a significant part of time on the ground, getting on mother’s body only at the alarm signal. At one-year-old age young animal leads independent life. Males usually stay in parental clan, and females pass from one clan to another.
Sexual maturity comes at the age of two years, and life expectancy reaches 25 – 30 years.

Ozomatli (Procyolemur ozomatli)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Raccoon lemuroids (Procyolemuridae)

Habitat: North America, evergreen deciduous woods at the coast of Gulf of Mexico and in Florida.
In Holocene representatives of primates order had gradually lost positions occupied in prehistoric time. Only one primate – man – had achieved fantastic power and prosperity at the expense of all ecosystem of planet. And only in some places unique species of small monkeys could coexist with people. Other primates became victims of hunting and human initiated change of natural environment. And once this vicious regime had failed: the mankind had disappeared, having fall a victim of natural laws which acted this species the same order as other ones. Stress, illnesses and adverse heredity had undermined reproduction of mankind as the species, and people had disappeared till some millenniums when some waves of global epidemics had swept across the world. Taken together with people, the part of primate species had died out: they are also subject to human illnesses. In addition the ice age rendered large influence to the number of primates, having reduced areas of suitable for them habitats. In Neocene when the situation had stabilized, some ecological niches earlier belonging to primates appeared occupied by absolutely other creatures.
One of such animals lives in woods along the coast of Gulf of Mexico. This creature resembles a little the monkey by shape, for what it has received the name “ozomatli” (in Aztec language it means “monkey”). Ozomatli dexterously swarms up trees, using paws with well advanced fingers. When ozomatli yawns, in its jaws six incisors instead of four ones characteristic for primates, are clearly visible. It unequivocally indicates the family tree of the present creature: ozomatli is predator very specialized to climbing habit of life, the descendant of animal cacomistle (Bassaricus astutus), belonging to raccoons family (Procyonidae).
Ozomatli is rather large creature: the adult male weights more than 20 kg, the female – about 15 kg. By separate features of appearance ozomatli resembles any monkey, but it has features, not characteristic for primates: on paws short, but sharp claws grow instead of nails. By proportions ozomatli resembles long-legged lemur: its head is rounded with large ears, body is lengthened, and mobile tail approximately one and half time exceeds the body length. Paws have sharp claws and well advanced fingers.
Rear legs are a little longer than front ones, due to what ozomatli can skip from branch to branch. At this animal feature of structure of extremities, more characteristic for primates, has developed: this animal does not cling to branches by claws, and clasps them by fingers and toes. To strengthen durability of clench, palms and feet of ozomatli are covered with wrinkled skin forming a semblance of papillar combs characteristic for primates.
At ozomatli there is short and rather wide muzzle: animal eats mainly vegetative food and small animals, and the part of molars had reduced. But force of bite has appreciably increased, that permits ozomatli to chew firm seeds and to crack nuts. Canines of this animal are also shorter in comparison with other predators.
Wool of ozomatli is short and rather thin: this creature prefers areas of warm and damp climate, not living in woodless areas. This animal has light brown colouring with thin cross black strips on back. Colouring of tail sharply contrasts to the body: it is light-yellow with black-and-white hairy brush of long hair on the tip. This hairy brush serves to the animal for communication with congeners: ozomatlies, as a rule, are silent, and only in case of danger they utter shrilly cry of alarm. Animals communicate with each other by means of tail movements. Thus the hairy brush is appreciable from apart, and permits animals to not give out themselves by cries.
Ears of ozomatli are rather wide, peaked and sticking in sides – they provide not only excellent hearing, but also protection from overheat in warm climate. Eyes of this animal are also big and shifted in forward part of scull. As the muzzle of animal is short, such position of eyes provides to it three-dimensional sight. Due to this feature ozomatli is able to jump in branches dexterously, covering the distance up to 5 – 6 meters and more. This animal is active in day time, as against to the nocturnal ancestor.
Ozomatli lives in deciduous woods at the southern coast of North America. It does not avoid swamp forests of Florida and Mexican coast, but does not live in woodless districts and light forests. This species is omnivorous and inclined to vegetarianism. The basic food of ozomatli includes fruits, seeds and nuts of various trees. Also this animal eats juicy stalks of orchids and other plants, and tree leaflets. It supplements the diet with invertebrates – snails, spiders and insects which this animal gathers in tree crones. Ozomatlies almost do not go down on the ground, preferring to travel in crones. These creatures keep in groups of several breeding pairs of approximately equal age, among which one pair has leading position. Pairs at ozomatli form to all life. Partners constantly care about each other, exchanging marks of attention: they clean each other, constantly keep beside and exchange by silent cooing sounds with each other.
Because this animal lives in districts where change of seasons is almost not expressed, animals having posterity may be met at any time of year. Two times per year the female brings posterity: one large cub covered with wool. The cub is born blind and with closed ears, and till first days of life it can only cling to mother’s wool. It holds for wool of female, and any time she holds the cub by one paw during jumps. At three-day age the cub starts to see and to hear, and its grasp becomes stronger. A week later it “settles” on mother’s back and starts to play with other cubs. Young ozomatlies keep near to parents almost before the birth of next cub: shortly before its birth female banishes grown up posterity, and young animals start to lead independent life. As a rule, they leave parental clan, joining other, small group, or form groups of same aged animals. Such groups differ in increased aggression, and can even supersede adult animals from rendered habitable territories. Ozomatli become adults approximately at the third year of life.
Life expectancy of this animal reaches 15 – 19 years.

Hopping carnocebus (Carnocebus saltator)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: South-American tail-grippers (Carnocebidae)

Habitat: tropical rainforests of South America, forest canopy.

Picture by Amplion

In glacial epoch rainforests of South America had seriously suffered from climatic changes. Because of dry and cooler climate of ice age their area had been strongly reduced, and they had remained only along the Atlantic coast of South America, and in lower reaches of rivers. Accordingly, the variety of local fauna and flora also had reduced. Especially large damage was incurred by groups of specialized wood animals among which only few species had remained. It had taken place with earlier numerous monkeys of New World.
In Neocene the climate became favorable for growth of rainforests again, but only few species of local monkeys had survived up to this time. In dense forest canopy they are compelled to compete to numerous animals of other groups adapted to tree-climbing and jumps.
One of such animals is very similar to Madagascar lemurs of Holocene epoch: it goes to feed at night, and hides in tree-trunk hollow in day time, covering by tail and paws large sensitive eyes. But it is not the primate, and a predator – carnocebus, the descendant of specialized tree-climbing raccoon kinkajou (Potos flavus). The name “carnocebus” emphasizes two features of this animal: the belonging to Carnivores order (Carnivora) and external similarity to South-American cebid monkeys (Cebidae).
Carnocebus inhabits tropical rainforests of the north of South America. This mammal keeps in forest canopy, practically never going down on the ground. Carnocebus is perfectly adapted to such way of life. It has fine inheritance from the ancestor – long tenacious tail which exceeds a little common length of body and head. The tip of tail is covered from below with hairless cornificate skin which makes grasp of branch stronger. When carnocebus climbs on branches, its tail, it seems, independently grasps the next branches, providing secure if the branch appears too thin. Paws of carnocebus are rather long because of what the animal is similar to monkey. Rear legs are a little bit longer than front legs because of what the back of animal is inclined forward. Due to strong rear legs carnocebus can make long jumps in forest canopy.
Fingers and toes of this animal are supplied with short, but strong and sharp claws. Till the climbing carnocebus simply clasps branches by fingers, but not clings to bark, as a cat. Thumbs on hand and foot can oppose to other fingers or toes.
Wool of carnocebus is short and velvety. General colouring of wool is brown; on back it is darker, than on paws and stomach. Eyes are bordered by thin ring of white wool; muzzle and area around of mouth are also white. The tip of tail is dark, almost black.
Carnocebus has inherited the habit of life of its ancestor: this is twilight and nocturnal animal. At it there are good hearing and very sharp sight. Ears of carnocebus are large, rounded, covered with wool on outer side, with fluffy fringe of long hairs on edge. Eyes of animal are big, round, directed forward: the muzzle of carnocebus is rather short, that strengthens its similarity to monkeys even more. Eyes of animal “shine” at night, as at cats: the retina has a layer of cells containing guanine which additionally reflects faint light rays to photosensitive layer of retina.
Carnocebus is omnivorous, but it obviously prefers food of animal origin. It eats insects and small vertebrates: mammals, frogs, lizards and sleeping birds. Carnocebus is so agile, that it can catch by jump even flying by birds and bats. The animal eats catch, holding it in forepaws, and sitting on branch vertically. In such moments animal additionally securing itself by tail clinging to the branch.
This is solitary animal spending day in shelter – usually in hollow of big tree. Less often carnocebus uses abandoned bird nest as shelter. When it is placed at top of tree, the animal arranges the original “canopy” of branches protecting from solar beams.
Carnocebuses meet and keep for some time in pairs only in breeding season. At this time the male some time cares at the female: cleans her fur and feeds her from the mouth. When animals sit on branch, the male can twist by tail the tail of the female. Animals spend day in common shelter, more often belonging to the female. When the female feels the approach of pregnancy, she starts to behave aggressively relatively to the male, and banishes him from the territory. Pregnancy lasts about three months, and on the average for two years at the female it happens three litters. It may be two cubs in litter. They are born rather advanced. Right after birth they can cling by paws to mother’s wool, additionally twisting her tail by their ones. They are colored darker than adult animals and have no white marks on muzzle. When the female moves in forest canopy, cubs sit on her hips and keep so strongly, that it can jump from tree to tree not being afraid for their life.
Young animals keep near to the female about four months. Usually at the end of this term the female again ready to pairing again, and cubs are banished by the male starting to court after her. Young carnocebuses spend first months of independent life together, and then each of them finds new territory to settle in. To this time animals become sexual mature. Duration of their life makes about 14 years.

Taranga (Taranga partenogenetica)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Habitat: New Zealand, woods of southern part of archipelago and mountain areas of islands.
Before people colonization and the introducing of various species of animals the nature of New Zealand was the most original and ancient by origin one in the world. New Zealand is the archipelago isolated from continents since Mesozoic era; therefore the majority of animal groups, characteristic for other areas of the Earth, simply could not settle it. Before people occurrence mammals of New Zealand were presented only by bats and seals. Humans had introduced numerous mammals to islands – predators and hoofed mammals which had changed a nature of this isolated world up to unrecognizability. Native species of birds, reptiles and invertebrates hardly resisted to the impact of introduced species, and the majority of them had disappeared in human epoch or during some tens thousand years after people disappearance. Descendants of introduced species occupied ecological niches had been empty earlier, superseded New Zealand endemic species and after millions years had generated the balanced ecosystem. Primary it had been no digging mammals at New Zealand, but in Neocene one of introduced species evolved to true underground inhabitant.
One of the most successful and nocuous for native fauna introduced species was hermin (Mustela erminea). In human epoch this mammal became the reason of reduction of number and disappearance of numerous species of New Zealandian birds. But time of its prosperity had approached to the end in glacial epoch, when the climate had changed. Ecosystems of the past degraded, and inhabitants of islands should search for new sources of forage to survive. One of descendants of hermin had turned to digging animal, having replaced moles absent at these islands. Taranga – the new species of digging mammals – had appeared so in New Zealand. In myths of New Zealand Taranga is the female, in the afternoon leaving the land for the underground world. This animal, as against the mythical prototype, had gone under the ground for ever, becoming the species deeply specialized to underground habit of life.
Body length of taranga is about 20 cm, from which about a quarter falls to a tail. The body of this small mammal is covered with rich velvety wool of grey color. Populations from mountain areas differ in longer and denser fur. Head of this mammal is very short and flat; on nose bridge the wide corneous scute is advanced. Taranga digs holes with the help of forepaws. They are similar to paws of the mole: short, wide, strong, with palms turned back and long thick claws. The body of taranga is lengthened, hinder legs are rather weak – animal pushes by them from walls of hole during the movement.
The skeleton of this mammal is additionally strengthened: it is important for underground habit of life when the animal is threatened constantly with danger to appear filled up with stones. Cranial bones of taranga are very thick; ribs are expanded and strong. Vertebrae are strengthened by numerous additional shoots and jags forming additional mechanical coupling. By structure of backbone this animal is convergently similar to girder-backed shrew (Scutisorex somereni) from Uganda lived in Holocene epoch.
Sense organs at taranga are advanced differently, rather than at hermin. Eyes of animal are very small; sight sence is substantially degenerated: the animal badly distinguishes contours of objects and does not distinguish color at all. Sight is useless at life under the ground, and by importance for animal it had been completely replaced with well advanced sense of smell.
Sharp thin teeth specify that taranga is active predator. This animal eats rodents, worms and reptiles creeping in its holes.
Taranga does not like stony soils and lives in soft wood ground rich in humus. Separate populations of taranga exist in mountain areas of New Zealand, but they are settled in places where there are woods with thick layer of ground. Also taranga does not live in tropical woods of the north of New Zealand, where the layer of ground is rather thin.
This is the solitary animal. Each individual digs system of holes and marks borders of territory with musk secretions. If two animals meet in the common system of holes, there is a fight between them, frequently ending by the death of one of animals. For these animals the cannibalism is characteristic, especially at the lack of food.
Only the female ready to pairing can admit the male to the territory, but right after pairings she banishes him. At this species of mammals the number of unique features of breeding is developed. The hermin – the ancestor of taranga – strongly depended on number of rodents, and at it the special adaptation permitted to restore quickly the number of species had developed. The male of this species had coupled to newborn females, and they grew, being pregnant. At taranga this adaptation had undergone change in connection with warming in early Neocene and rather constant conditions of inhabiting. This animal is able to parthenogenesis: young females grow, and at them the new parthenogenetic generation of cubs already develops. All newborn individuals of parthenogenetic generation are females. If the female ready to pairing has not met the male, at her the occurrence of parthenogenetic pack is also possible. In ovocites there is the doubling of chromosomal complement which is not accompanying with cell division, and from them normal cubs develop. In mountain valleys there are the populations of taranga including only females – possible, this is the parthenogenetic posterity of the single foundress individual. Taranga breeds two times per year; in litter it may be 4 – 5 cubs.
This animal grows quickly, reaching the maturity at the age of half-year. But the life expectancy of taranga exceeds five years seldom.
Taranga is not unique species of underground predators on Neocenic Earth. At the territory of Europe the blindweasel lives – it is another species of underground mustelid, completely lost sight sence, but not adapted to burrow digging.

Gliding weasel (Ventomustela zewanna)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Habitat: Balkan, woods to the north of the Alps; forest canopy.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Neocene subtropical woods had returned to Europe. But trees forming them were not natives from the south. Mediterranean Sea, the shelter of thermophilic flora, had turned to heated salt desert, and the rich southern flora was lost, having replaced by drought-resistant plants of desert. Trees of European forests are descendants of species of flora of temperate latitudes: broad-leaved oaks and maples, relic plane trees, nut trees, beeches and chestnut trees. They had managed to survive in mountain valleys during the ice age, and after restoration of conditions favorable for life, had formed rich shady forests, stretched by strip from the Central Europe (to the north of the Alpes) through Tatra Mountains and Carpathian Mountains up to coast of Fourseas.
On the ground under forest canopy a few kinds of animals live, and the majority of inhabitants of European deciduous forests live in forest canopy. As against tropical rainforests, in European subtropical forests there are only few species of lianes, and crones of separate trees are not connected by them together. Therefore in canopy of European forests only ones live, able to fly well or … to make long gliding jumps. Abundance of prey had involved to forest canopy the predator perfectly adapted to movement in such inhabitancy. It is the representative of mustelid family, the gliding weasel.
The European gliding weasel has kept small size, characteristic for many mustelid species. The length of body of this animal is about 30 cm, and about 20 cm falls to fluffy tail. Between paws of gliding weasel skin membrane is advanced, permitting this little mammal to make long gliding jumps from tree to tree.
Head of animal is small and rounded, with short ears. Eyes are shifted to forward part of skull and provide good three-dimensional vision – it is vital for animal living in a forest canopy to estimate distance before a jump more precisely. The short wool of gliding weasel is colored brown, and on tail there are some black rings. The bottom part of body of gliding weasel is snow-white. To winter at individuals in northern part of area wool turns longer and a little lighter.
This animal is active and successful predator (it has received the specific name in honour of goddess of hunting of western Slavs). At gliding weasel there are large canines, and mouth can open very widely. Gliding weasel eats various forest rodents, bats and birds. This predator kills prey by bite in head. Gliding weasel often ravages bird nests, showing miracles of acrobatics and dexterously landing even on very thin twigs where the nest is built. This animal can climb in hollows to bee nests in searches of honey, and eats other insects and large spiders. Gliding weasel spends not whole life in tree crones. It often goes down on the ground in searches of forage. Being a predator by its nature, it does not disdain ripe berries, and in autumn cracks large oily seeds of beeches and chestnuts which grow in forests of Southern Europe much. On the ground this animal eats worms and insects. This mammal is able to climb on trees as dexterously, as squirrel, despite of presence of gliding membrane.
Gliding weasel is a solitary animal. Each individual has site in forest and marks it with odorous musky secretions. The territory of animal includes not only a part of crones of trees, but also trunks and the ground under trees.
Gliding weasel pair two times per year. First time courtship games occur at the end of winter when night frosts stop. Males start to come in territory of females and to leave their own odorous marks near female’s ones. If the female is ready to pairing, her musky secretions get a special smell well distinguishing by males. When the male feels it, he tries to reach the female as soon as possible. Sometimes at once some males follow one female. They constantly compete with each other, and sometimes can bite each other, putting deep painful wounds. Sometimes competing males seize each other’s gliding membrane, and one of them can pay for failure in courtship season by loss of ability to make gliding jumps. Eventually, near the female only one male stays, which pairs with her.
After the pairing the female banishes the male. Pregnancy lasts till about two months, and in second half of spring the female gives rise to 4 – 6 cubs. They are blind and helpless, and female looks after them within 2 months before they become independent. She hides cubs in deep hollow of tree at the big height. Young gliding weasels differ from adults in darker colouring of wool and absence of strips on tail.
Second time for a season the female is ready to pairing approximately in one month after cubs had ceased to suck milk. The first days of pregnancy the female concerns to grown up cubs tolerantly, but later starts to express aggression to them more often, and compels them to live independently. Second time it brings posterity at the end of summer. In the second litter it is less number of cubs – only two or three ones. But they are larger, than ones in first litter, and become quite independent predators to the beginning of winter.
The main enemy of these animals is large gospodar woodpecker which pecks out tree-trunk hollows and can eat newborn cubs of gliding weasel.

The idea about existence of this animal was proposed by Momus, the forum member.

Antipod’s unotter (Xenolutra antipodorum)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Habitat: New Zealand, sea coast and lower stream of rivers.
Freshwater ecosystems of New Zealand differed in poverty and high degree of endemism in comparison with continental ones. It is connected with very early isolation of archipelago, which had taken place before occurrence of the most typical families of freshwater fishes and other water vertebrates. The situation had sharply changed in human epoch when various species of freshwater fishes and predatory mammals had been introduced to islands. After disappearance of mankind their descendants had changed freshwater ecosystems up to unrecognizability. One of such species lives in lower reaches of rivers of New Zealand; it is a predatory aquatic mammal, crowning with itself the food pyramid of ecosystem. By shape this animal is very similar to otter, but is connected to it with only remote relationship by origin: it is the descendant of the domesticated American mink (Mustela vison) introduced to islands in human epoch. This animal is named antipod’s unotter. It is much larger, than the ancestor: up to one and half meters long including wide flattened tail.
At antipod’s unotter there are rather short paws with long fingers connected by elastic membrane. The antipod’s unotter is very vulnerable on land, but in water only few animals can make a competition to it. For slow and maneuverable swimming animal uses paws, but at hunting in open water unotter presses paws to body and swims with the help of vertical bends of backbone and movements of tail. Tail of antipod’s unotter is wide and flat, similar to beaver’s one. It is covered with dense skin and shorter fur, than the body.
Antipod’s unotter has flattened head with short strong jaws which easily crack skull of fish up to 40 – 50 cm long, or the armour of large crab. Ears of animal are short and rounded. On muzzle of unotter long rigid whiskers – vibrisses – grow; with their help animal searches for prey under water.
The body of unotter is covered with dense rich fur of grey color with white spot on throat which passes to longitudinal strip on stomach. Fur of antipod’s unotter is rich and dense. It reliably keeps air, and consequently animal is not cold even in cool water. Unotter carefully looks after fur, and combs it with two wide claws of forepaws which bottom surface forms “combs”. The animal also greases fur with secretions of former musky glands, located near the anal aperture. In this connection they had strongly changed: having lost smell component (the strong smell is characteristic for many mustelids), they became plentiful and oily. Cubs at which glands poorly function yet, use for care of fur secretions of the female.
Antipod’s unotter is active piscivorous predator. It usually hunts in coastal zone and in thickets of brown algae. These animals especially willingly catch pelagic fishes which shoals swim up close to the coast. The group of animals attacks fishes, and drive their shoal into algae thickets where fishes lose orientation: in such situation it is easier to catch them. Besides of fish, antipod’s unotter eats crustaceans and small snails. After storm these animals gather on coast dead sea animals cast ashore.
By the way of life the antipod’s unotter is social species. It settles at sea coast or in mouth of the river in big groups numbering up to ten breeding pairs of adult animals. Besides of them in groups there are some single adult individuals, and also numerous youngsters – the posterity, yet not completely passed to independent life. The colony lodges in places where there is an opportunity to arrange shelter. Animals dig in the ground some common holes, or lodge in cave well protected from storm waves.
The pair at antipod’s unotters is formed to all further life. Partners differ in attachment to each other – they have a rest and hunt together. Male is larger, than female and female regularly renders to him signs of attention and submission – she clears and greases his fur and licks his muzzle. Once a year, in early spring the female gives rise to 3 – 5 cubs. They are born blind and deaf, but covered with wool. The female gives rise to posterity in shelter, on litter of grass and seaweed. First some days she does not admit to posterity even her male. Week-aged cubs start to hear, little bit later eyes open at them. At the age of 17 days cubs start to creep out from den and to explore the world around. The female feeds them with milk approximately up to bi-monthly age, but already fortnight cubs start to try food of adult animals: male brings in the den fish, and the female allows cubs to eat a little. At the age of two months young animals already leave a den and start to study to swim and to get food independently.
As a rule, males abandon the group at the age of half-year. They lead barchelor life, and can found their own colony if they find a place suitable to life. If the parental colony is overpopulated, adult individuals can show aggression to young growth. Then even young females leave a colony; later they can join a colony of bachelor males and form breeding pairs with them. At the age of two years young animals become able to breeding.

Littoral mink (Neovison dicynodonta)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Habitat: sea coasts of North America from polar to temperate waters.
Among mammals the mustelid family shows rather different shape of species included, varying from tiny weasel conceding to some rats in length, up to glutton close to bear cub in size. Mustelids live on trees (marten, American mink, etc.), under ground (badger, black-footed ferret etc.), and even in water (otters and minks). In Holocene separate representatives of this family even devepoled oceanic habitat! Also it is necessary to note that seals descend from early mustelids.
Short, but severe epoch of anthropogenous pressure and climatic changes took place right after it had been a true test for durability for mustelids. The area of some species had been reduced, and some of them had become extincy completely.
In due course mustelids began to return former positions and to occupy again ecological niches lost earlier. American mink (Neovison vison) had occupied a niche of otters extinct on human fault, and in due course was settled up to ocean. It had not become high-grade analogue of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) dyed out at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene, but evolved to one of the most unusual mustelid representatives of Neocene – littoral mink.
Littoral mink is an animal kept features of the ancestor in many respects: lengthened body and tail, and short webby paws. But it is also adapted to new inhabitancy and had developed special attributes, not characteristic for ancestor. One of the main features of this species is the structure of teeth. Incisors are still sharp, but strongly reduced. As opposed to them molars are low, but wide and massive, with the powerful roots, resembling nutcrackers. Canines, though they stick out of mouth, as if “sabers” of other predators, are absolutely straight and smooth, resembling tusks of Holocene walrus. Littoral mink is its ecological analogue, though in miniature.
This animal has rich fur of brown color. Littoral mink carefully looks after it, cleaning the dirt with claws of forepaws and greasing it with fat musky secretions of anal glands.
Bones of mink skeleton turned appreciablly heavier, and muscles have become stronger: it is twice longer than its ancestor and almost ten times heavier. It allows an animal to dive under water and to remain there till 15 – 20 minutes without any serious problems. Certainly, it is not enough to catch quickly swimming pelagic fishes and squids, but this mink does not hunt them: its prey includes bentic fishes and crustaceans, bivalves and gastropods, less often sea urchins and starfishes. It easily cracks shells and carapaces of animals by molars, and tears off snails and bivalve shells from stones by canines.
As well as other sea mammals, mink swims, waving by the whole body in vertical plane, and uses short and wide hind feet and extended tail as rudders. Forepaws also have palamas between fingers, but do not take part in underwater movement: sea minks use them for movement overland where they move in seal manners – on all fours, pushing by hind legs.
The main enemies of littoral mink are predatory fishes and orcine squids. On land it is attacked by coastal predatory birds and carnivorous mammals searching for food in coastal zone. But ground predators are usually dangerous only for cubs: adult minks, having powerful jaw bones and muscles, can be formidable opponents. Protecting themselves, they put deep bites. Pain sensitivity is reduced at them, therefore littoral mink, protecting itself from large predator, can hang on it in death grip and does not unclench jaws even if it will be gnawed and biten.
Littoral minks live at both coasts of North America. The Pacific population is isolated from Atlantic one by Beringean Isthmus at the north and by tropical areas at the south. Probably, it is formed as a result of unitary settling of the Atlantic population to the south during any short-term ice age. To winter animals of northern populations swim to the south: despite of rich fur and underskin fat, these animals bear cold Canadian winters not so successfully. They migrate in large packs, pursued by sea predators hunting weakened and left behind animals. In spring migration takes place in opposite direction.
These animals keep in family groups including 1 – 2 males and 4 – 6 females. Females of littoral minks bring posterity in second half of spring, after the arrival to summer residence. In litter it may be up to 7 – 10 cubs, but within the first year of life less then half of them will survive – the others perish from predators or during autumn migration.
The maximal life expectancy of littoral minks is 12 – 15 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Grokk (Quasiursus grokk)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Habitat: Western, Central and Southern Europe, Atlas Mountains, Asia Minor, the Caucasus peninsula.
During the first millions of years of early Neocene world resembled a little the early Palaeocene, as small animals quickly increased in size to occupy the vacant niches in emerging ecosystems. The ecological niche of bears at the area of Holarctic had been taken over by the large descendants of ferrets (Mustela putoris) that form a single berl (Quasiursus) genus. Only in the Far East they are replaced by two more predators: arctomeles (Arctomeles tardus) and giant tanooka (Tanuka gigantea), natives of Oriental zoogeographical realm. South of the Alps, Western Europe and North Africa are inhabited by grokk, another representative of berl genus. It evolved in relative isolation from another species and is slightly different from them. This is a predator and a scavenger, an ecological equivalent of the Holocene bear, but more carnivorous: plant food makes not more than 10% of the diet.
The grokk is reminiscent in appearance of a cross between a ferret and a badger, but is an animal of a large bear size; its shoulder height is about 1 meter. It has an elongated body, pretty short strong paws, large head and short tail. The fur of the grokk has sandy-yellow shade with darker legs and a “mask” on the muzzle. Tail is also dark, but with a white tip. Grokk is a sluggish animal with plantigrade feet, but over short distances, it can run at a very high speed, catching up with its prey. This animal’s claws are long and non-retractable.
This mammal is a carnivore, it has strong jaws, and molars have a well-developed cutting edge; the canines are elongated. Grokk’s sense of smell is very acute – the nasal cavity is quite extensive, and due to it animal’s head is shaped more like a cat’s than a bear’s. The eyesight is comparatively weak, the eyes are small. Hearing is sharp – the external ears are moveable and are located at the top of the head.
The grokk is a solitary predator, specializing in hunting for large herbivores – tapiroids and embolohyraxes. This species has tremendous strength, and the adult animal is capable of toppling a young embolohyrax on the ground and breaking its neck. Also, this mammal willingly eats carrion, finding it by smell. Using its superior strength, this species easily seizes prey from other predators. In the Atlas Mountains, this mammal attacks young giraffe ostriches. Due to this feeding specialization the population of the predator is widely dispersed. Each female occupies approximately 100 square kilometres of territory and in fact spends its whole life there. On contrary, the males travel much more: they roam vast territories, partly overlapping those of other individuals. The territory of each male includes territories of several females. During the mating season the male indulges in long wanderings, fertilizing females that live within its posessions. Each individual marks its territory by using secretions of musk glands, inherited from mustelid ancestors, and communication of different individuals occurs mainly through scent marks that these animals leave on the noticeable elements of the landscape – on large stones and single trees.
Grokk is a quiet animal. Using sounds in communication occurs mostly between females and their offsprings, and when meeting each other, two adult grokks roar loudly, trying to oust a rival from its territory. The voice of the grokk in calm is a short snarl, hence the onomatopoeic name of the animal.
The mating season begins in the fall. When ready to mate, the female produces a distinctive odor, which attracts males. After the end of estrus the female chases away the male. 2-3 cubs are born in spring, within the first few weeks of life intense competition arises between them, and fights take place often. Only one cub of the litter usually reaches the independent condition. The sexual maturity comes at the age of 3 years; the life expectancy is up to 50 years

Translated by Bhut.

Neosurilio (Neosurilio zebropygus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Mustelids (Mustelidae)

Habitat: forests of the east of North America and along the coast of Gulf of Mexico.
In epoch of biological crisis at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene the species had not having strict specialization received advantage in survival. The part of these species belonged to the group of synanthropic ones, and had adapted to live near people, having received from it additional benefits – an abundance of forage, refuge and rather quiet existence. But after human disappearance all species had received equal opportunities for further evolution.
Among mustelid family among survived ones there were North American skunks – the omnivores having an effective way of protection against enemies. One of descendants of spotty skunk (Spilogale gracialis), neosurilio (“surilio” is the name of one species of skunks in human epoch) lives in Neocene epoch in forests of North America. It is the ecological analogue of badger, the sluggish plantigrade animal having massive constitution. Length of body of this animal is about 70 – 80 cm, and length of tail is about 40 cm.
Neosurilio is noticeable from apart due to contrast warning colouring. The animal as if consists of two halves sharply differing by colouring. On back part of body, hips and waist there are alternating black and white strips (hence the scientific specific name meaning “having back of zebra”). Tip of tail is also white. Forward part of body of neosurilio is brown with white throat and stomach. Around of eyes there are “glasses” of white wool, and on top of head there is black “cap”.
Neosurilio has kept way of protection characteristic for skunk: it defends against enemies splashing smelly liquid from strongly advanced anal glands. In special sacs the oily liquid containing ethylmercaptane accumulates in amount enough to make some “shots” in succession to distance up to 3 meters. Before application of the weapon animal shows to aggressor the black-and-white back, having turned it to aggressor. At aggressively behaving neosurilio wool on back part of body rises on end and fluffs, increasing a little the visual sizes of this part of animal. If this warning had not worked, jet of smelly liquid flies to predator.
Neosurilio consumes various kinds of food, and due to the omnivorousity it does not stay hungry in any district. On forepaws of animal thick strong claws grow, with which help neosurilio easily digs out holes of small animals and gets roots and tubers of plants. More often neosurilio eats small animal – invertebrates, amphibians; also it ravages nests and eats eggs and nestlings of small birds. Up to half of diet of this animal the vegetative food makes – tubers, roots of plants and berries. Neosurilio eats food “aristocratically” – it sits on hind legs and brings it by front paws to the mouth. At the end of summer and in autumn neosurilio almost completely passes to vegetative food, and during winter and spring food shortage does not squeamish about carrion. Using the chemical weapon, neosurilio behaves very impudently, and can drive away from prey even large predators.
Each individual builds in the territory some temporary shelters and spends the night in them during wandering on the territory. Also neosurilio does not overlook to mark border of territory, splashing some drops of combat liquid on roots of large trees. The female ready to birth of posterity becomes homebody. Right before birth of posterity she stays best arranged shelter, and starts to expand it even more. She digs a hole up to 5 meters deep with several emergency exits. Pregnancy at neosurilio lasts about three months, and proceeds from the end of winter up to middle of spring. The female gives rise to 2 – 3 large cubs. They are born blind and deaf, but already at birth are covered with wool. The female cares of them for a long time, feeding them by milk up to 4-month's age. But to this time cubs already develop enough to leave a hole and to follow the female. At this time at them also odorous glands develop and they become able to splash smelly liquid. Young animals spend the first winter with the female, learning the search of food, and leave her shortly before courtship season when she starts to behave aggressively to them.

Ursine civet (Ursivetta aromatica)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Civets (Viverridae)

Habitat: mountain woods of Southern Asia.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Mass extinction of live creatures at the border of Holocene and Neocene had given few chances of survival to animals weighting more than 20 kgs. Predators dependent on abundance of large prey – cats, dogs, hyaenas and bears have especially suffered from it. But small predators like raccoons, weasels and civets have easily survived and have “privately divided” the planet: weasels and their descendants became main predators of temperate and cold areas of Earth, and civets were spreaded in tropical zone of Old World. Only in Africa and partly in America relic representatives of cats, descendants of small cat species compete with them. Holocene representatives of civet family by the constitution are analogues of primitive predators of early Cenozoic, therefore it is possible to assume, that they have the big evolutionary future. Among them there are ecological analogues of omnivorous bears and carnivorous cats, therefore it is possible to assume, that in the future they will occupy place of these animals.
Ursine civet is the huge representative of civet family. This animal is similar to bear with long tail (prehistoric analogue of ursine civet is the huge fossil marten Perunium dwelt in Eurasia). Constitution of this animal is, however, more graceful, than at bear: neck is longer and more mobile, and muzzle is more extended. Adult animal weighs up to 250 - 300 kg (males are larger). Legs are almost plantigrade, with long non-retracting claws. Fur of animal is rich and rather long (the animal frequently meets in mountains, sometimes in summer rising up to zone of Alpine vegetation), chestnut-brown with mesh white pattern on neck and back. On tail there are some cross rings of white wool, the tail tip is black. With the help of tail position ursine civet expresses its mood at the meeting with neighbours. In the basis of tail there are repugnatorial glands which emit pleasant musk smell for territory marking.
This animal is solitary one living in territory numbering some square kilometers in area and strictly protected from neighbours. Only female and cubs can live any time in group.
The ursine civet is omnivorous species with deviation to predating. Teeth at it are wide, knobby and dulled – vegetative food makes about 40 % of diet. Among plants ursine civet prefers fruits of different palms rich in oil. Also it digs out by claws roots of huge grasses of family Apiaceae growing on mountain slopes, and tubers of various wood grasses. On river banks ursine civet eats roots of reed mace and other marsh plants. The food of animal origin includes larvae of various insects, frogs and lizards, eggs and nestlings of ground birds. If there is an opportunity, ursine civet willingly eats carrion and attacks cubs of ground animals. Due to claws this animal can climb trees, ravaging bird nests.
Ursine civet is mainly day time animal. It spends night in shelter which it is usually a little number in its territory. From time to time animal moves to other shelter, giving to ants and the other insects the right to eat staying in lair litter larvae of fleas and ticks. For disposal of parasites animal willingly bathes in river and wallows on odorous grasses, especially on greenery of plants of Apiaceae family (having eaten its roots).
Borders of territories can be broken only in season of pairing. Usually on border of possession of several animals there is special remarkable place like alone growing tree or large stone. Animals make here original “message board”, marking it with odorous secretions. When the male notices on smell, that the female is ready to pairing, he puts the mark atop of mark of this female, and waits nearby from “message board” driving away other males. Also he puts marks in territory of chosen female: peels bark from tree and marks this place with odorous secretions, declaring about its presence. When the female comes to “message board” and sniffs at it, she becomes acquainted “in absentia” with the male, and if the male is pleasant to her, some time it allows him to remain nearby for pairing.
When the female feels approach of pregnancy, it banishes out the male, sometimes should win anew his own territory if on it in his absence the neighbour had lodged. Pregnancy lasts about five months. Shortly before cub birth the female builds lair – she digs out hole under tree roots or finds ready cave in mountains. She drags moss and branches for litter, and carefully hides traces of her presence near to chosen refuge.
In pack there are usually two cubs though sometimes there are triplets, and young females bear only one cub. Young growth is born blind and with closed ears, covered by short wool. Colouring of newborn cubs is spotty: chestnut stains on red or straw-coloured background (characteristic colouring of Asian civet (Viverricula), an ancestor of the ursine civet, was spotty), later cubs darken. At ten-day age at them eyes and ears open, and month-aged cubs already can play near lair entrance. At bi-monthly age cubs leave shelter, and female teaches them in ways of food getting. Young growth stay with mother up to eight-monthly age then starts to live independently. Sexual maturity comes at them at three-year age, and life expectancy can reach up to 30 - 35 years.

Pardinia (Pseudacinonyx gracilis)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Civets (Viverridae)

Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa.

Picture by Viergacht

Mass extinction of large herbivore animals has caused disappearance of large predators eating them. After stabilization of situation and restoration of biological balance as the reply to evolution of herbivores large predators have started to appear – they were descendants of rather small forms which have survived during mass extinction.
Pardinia is one of such predatory animals, the descendant of genette (Genetta genetta), widely spreaded in Holocene at the territory of Northern Africa and Southern Europe. Its close relative is the huge deadlynetta (Necrogenetta deima), living in North-African savannas. But if deadlynetta is the specialized sabertooth hunter for large prey, pardinia is graceful analogue of the cheetah chasing swift-footed herbivores. By constitution pardinia resembles fleet dog with long tail and rather short muzzle. Height of animal at a shoulder is about 80 cm, body length is up to 120 cm, tail lenght is about meter; back legs are little bit longer than front ones. Body of pardinia is covered with short wool, on edges of ears there is fringe of long soft hair. Wool is straw-coloured with scattered brown stains on back merging to longitudinal strips. On throat of males there is big white spot bordered by dark-brown strip. Head of pardinia is similar to cat’s one, but is more extended. Canines are well advanced, their ends are visible from closed mouth of animal; bases of canines are very wide. Chewing muscles are well advanced: animal kills catch by bite in backbone or in the basis of skull.
Similarly to cheetah pardinia chases catch by fast throw. But as against cheetahs it also can chase lonely catch walking for a long time, yet will drive it up to exhaustion. Chasing prey, pardinia tries to fall catch down on the ground by impact of paws against side or shoulder, and then presses it by own weight against ground and bites in backbone.
Pardinia is solitary predator. Each female has territory marking it with secret of musk glands. Male, as a rule, has no constant territory: he wanders on territories of several females, remaining for the pairing period at one of them. Pregnancy lasts 5 months. Shortly before cub birth female builds shelter in rich bushes or among stones where it gives rise to posterity: 4 - 6 cubs. Cubs are born blind, covered by dark one-colour wool. Later their colouring replaces to motley one, characteristic for adults. Cubs develop rather slowly: they start to leave shelter at monthly age, and study to hunt approximately from three-monthly age. About half-year they hunt together with mother, leaving her shortly before occurrence of new pack. Sexual maturity at young animals comes at the second year of life.
Pardinia hunts mainly quickly running herbivore animals - hoofed mammals, kept in Southern Africa as relicts of Holocene fauna. Hunting usually occurs on dawn though the female having cubs can hunt even in hottest time of day. Pardinia creeps to herd hiding in bushes and grasses, stopping at slightest sign of alarm at herbivores. Having chosen prey animal tries to catch it by one throw – pardinia is not able to run fast at long distance. Usually only every 6-th or 7-th attack ends successfully.
If number of large catch is not enough, pardinia willingly foods with small vertebrates – frogs, lizards and also birds. Dexterity of the pardinia is great: it can drop flying up birds in jump by long paws.
Organism of pardinia as against to organism of deadlynetta related to it works literally “for deterioration” – during run plenty of forces is spent. Therefore life expectancy of this animal is not so great: in total up to 12 – 14 years.

Gelluda (Pardonetta gelloudes)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Viverrides (Viverridae)

Habitat: forests of South-East of Europe, forested areas of Fourseas coast, Caucasian Peninsula.
During Holocene, the human epoch, the native European fauna had reduced in number and in diversity. Many groups of animals, especially the large-sized ones, did not go through co-existence with humanity and died out without living descendants. Among them there were carnivorans – wolves, brown bears, European lynxes, etc… They had been replaced by the descendants of the predators of the “second wave” – mustelids and viverrids, including the descendants of the common genet. The panther genet inhabits the west and also in center and in the south of Europe, and to the east it is replaced by gelluda, a closely related species.
Like its relatives, the panther genet and the deadlynetta, gelluda is a very large animal, which reaches 160 centimeters in length (tail length is about one meter) and weighs approximately 70 kilograms. Its fur has grayish-white or pale yellow color, on which there are darker spots of irregular shape that merge to vertical stripes on the rear half of body and into rings on tail.
The appearance of gelluda has clear features of specialized predator: in has a robust skull and sharp teeth, especially the incisors. Unlike the deadlynetta, it does not have sabre-like canine teeth – on the contrary, its canines and incisors are close in size and are equally sharp, capable of breaking through almost any skin and of cutting meat. The molars, on the contrary, are blunt slightly and act like forceps. They are capable of breaking through even bones of medium thickness.
The muzzle of this animal is shortened and has strong jaw muscles – the role of gelluda in ecosystem is like the role of hyena, because it is able to eat its prey including the most part of bones.
When hunting, gelluda prefers to use its claws and weight, but not its teeth on contrary to felines: after jumping out from an ambush, it smashes into the side of herbivore, and begins to rake it with claws, trying to bring down its prey. Pain, the loss of the blood and the weight of the predator force its prey to fall and gelluda usually bites through cervical vertebrae of its prey to kill it. Gelluda hunts stronger and larger herbivores more carefully, putting smaller wounds to it and chasing it for a long time. Gelluda almost always hunts on the ground, and almost never uses trees for this purpose; therefore its basic prey includes medium-sized and large animals rather than the small ones, but during the period of hunger (usually in winter) it is capable of eating any animal, which it will be able to overpower.
In contrast to their relatives, gelludas are comparatively sociable animals, and live usually in pairs (both parents rear their 2-4 youngs), and in winter several (usually 2-3) pairs can act together, attacking even such animals, which they would not risk attacking in spring or in summer. At this time the territories of these animals are also used in common.Sometimes lonely animal joins the family and forms a pair with one young animal.
The mating period begins at the end of winter. At that time gelluda females begin to leave odorous marks on trunks of trees, stumps, large boulders and so forth. Males find these markers by smell and find females ready to mating following their marks. If several males gather near one female, they fight, punching each other on the snout with their front paws. They sit on rear ones when dueling. Head and shoulders of adult male may be covered with a pattern of numerous scars, the traces of such duels. If the pair of adult animals is stable, they do not take part in mating duels and behave aggressively to contenders.
In the second half of spring the females give birth to cubs covered with brighter and monotonous fur (melanistic gelludas appear in population rarely); usually it happens in secluded place, in natural shelter or in specially made lair. The female rears them with milk for the first two or three months, but in the middle of summer young animals leave their home forever, and at the autumn they are ready to follow their parents and to accompany them on the hunting.
Life expectancy of this species is 20-25 years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Bhut, the forum member.
Translated by Bhut.

Squirrel mungo (Mungartes scandens)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Viverrids (Viverridae)

Habitat: tropical rainforests of East Madagascar.

Picture by Timothy Morris

During the climatic changes marked the change of geological epochs, the area of tropical forests of Madagascar was reduced up to several isolated sites in river valleys. Large forest species like Malagasy fossa had died out, but some small omnivorous predators had successfully survived. Among them there were rather small Malagasy mongooses (Galidictis), whose descendants have added new fauna of Madagascar.
In forests of Madagascar of Neocene epoch small animals can not feel like in full safety – at night one of local predators goes to hunt. Medium-sized mammal looking like squirrel quickly skips from one branch to another. It is about cat-sized, but looks larger because of long fluffy tail. With the help of such tail animal can change direction jump and support balance on branches and in jump. This creature is a squirrel mungo, one of Neocene Malagasy predators, ruthless hunter of any animals weighting up to 3 – 5 kgs.
The skin of squirrel mungo is rusty-red, patterned with wide longitudinal strips of black color, breaking on shoulders to separate strokes. Tail is red with white tip, on eyes there is white “mask”; hands and feet are dark grey.
Paws of squirrel mungo are rather long – in proportions animal looks like huge squirrel. Claws are rather short, but fingers and toes are long and tenacious - animal is good tree-climber and spends the whole life in forest canopy.
Muzzle of animal is extended; ears are short and rounded. Canines are long, slightly juiting out from mouth. Squirrel mungo takes prey by forepaws, presses to branch and kills, putting deep bites to it. Squirrel mungo eats reptiles, birds and small mammals, and can attack even lemur cubs. It also supplements diet with bird eggs and insects. This predator eats small prey like squirrel, holding it in forepaws.
Squirrel mungoes live and hunt in pairs keeping together till some years, and sometimes till the whole life. Hollow of large tree, especially if the trunk is rotten from within to needed depth, is best dwelling for these animals. In afternoon time squirrel mungos sleep, and right before evening they begin the restless life: stretch, cleaned wool for some time, and go to search for food, renewing boundary marks in passing. Animals mark borders with musk secreting by glands in the basis of tail. For this purpose this mammal nestles back against tree trunk or branch, and rubs against this place for some time. Usually the couple of animals marks territory in common, putting a personal mark near to partner’s one.
The pair protects its fodder site in common. If the stranger interferes the site occupied by couple of animals, lawful owners of territory meet it, loudly squalling and keeping nervously shivering tails up. Usually single animal does not get involved in fight with breeding couple and leaves another’s possession.
Two times per one year the female brings posterity; in litter there is one cub differing from adults in monotonous reddish colouring without spots. It spends first two weeks of life in shelter (usually in tree-trunk hollow or in abandoned bird nest). When it gets stronger, parents start to train it in hunting receptions. Young animal keeps with parents almost up to the birth of the next cub at them. Shortly before delivery female starts to express aggression to its own cub. She can even kill it, protecting the future posterity if the cub appears not ready to begin independent life.
The young animal reaches about 2/3 of the weight of adult animal to the moment of exile from family. At the age of half-year young animals occupy their own territory and after two more months can bring posterity.

Sugar mungo (Floromungo flosculiphagus)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Viverrids (Viverridae)

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Habitat: tropical rainforests of Eastern Madagascar.
The tropical rainforest gives the huge variety of kinds of food to the inhabitants; therefore it is possible to meet the set of highly specialized species of animals here. Among them at times there are species depending on the most unexpected food sources.
Predators turn to vegetarians rather seldom. Pandas, partly bears, and the African palm-nut vulture among birds are the examples of this phenomenon known in human epoch. But in Neocene in Madagascar forests the descendant of carnivores evolved, which quite may add this list with itself – sugar mungo. This species of former predators lives in canopy of Madagascar rainforests at the great height. The small mammal with bright red wool and long tail quickly clambers among lianas and branches. It is similar to any rodent or small lemur, but at close examination first impression appears deceptive. It differs from primates in claws and short fingers and toes bearing characteristic small pads. Also it is lack of large incisors being a “card” of rodents.
This animal moves in a manner characteristic for predators: it quickly jumps among branches, frequently sniffing. And it seems that sensitive long nose prompts its owner where the food is. In several jumps small predator reaches the purpose: branches of plentifully blossoming tree. Having found recently opened labiate flowers emitting aroma with slight putrefactive shade, little mammal thrusts head in flower. In the weight it lowers the bottom petal, densely pressed against top one, and narrow muzzle allows it to penetrate deep into flower fauces. Little mammal does not search for small animals it can easily cope with – it feeds on nectar. When it pulls head out from flower, its nape appears powdered with brownish pollen. Having cleaned and having sneezed squeaky, sugar mungo gets into other flowers by turns, licking nectar from them and making pollination in passing.
Sugar mungo, perhaps, is one of the smallest and most specialized species of carnivores; it is the descendant of Malagasy mongoose (Galidictis). Having adapted to life in forest canopy, it has turned to skilful acrobat, and small size allows it to clamber easily on thinest branches. It is only about rat-sizeв one, though it seems larger because of longer fluffy tail. Bright red wool of sugar mungo is short and rich. Throat and breast are white, bordered with thin black strip. On back there passes black longitudinal strip; sometimes it is supplemented with pale faltering parallel strips on each side. Tenacious paws of animal are supplied with sharp bent claws, allowing clambering on branches and tree trunks. Tail serves as a counterbalance when this mammal moves on lianas and thin branches.
Head is extended and is on rather long and flexible neck. Brown eyes are large – sugar mungo has good color sight; it distinguishes the most part of colors (except for dark blue) and especially likes to feed on red flowers. Muzzle of animal is long and narrow, slightly lowered downwards; on each side of nose long whiskers stick out. Teeth are small and short – sugar mungo eats firm food seldom. But tongue of this animal is a principal organ of food getting. It can be put far out from mouth, and on its tip there is brush of fibers, assisting to gather nectar. In addition to nectar sugar mungo eats friable pulp of ripe fruits. Animal licks it by tongue from cracks in peel, or tears peel of fruit by claws for feeding. Occasionally sugar mungo catches tiny insects and slugs, supplementing a diet with necessary animal protein. Pregnant and nursing females, and also young animals especially frequently catch invertebrates.
Sugar mungo is a solitary animal and is active mainly in afternoon time. Females of this species are very much adhered to the territory, and each individual carefully marks borders of territory with musky smell. Males lack musky glands, and they have no constant territory which may be marked at all. Every male lives at the large site including some territories of females. Males are more tolerant, rather than females, concerning to each other and some animals can even spend the night in the same hollow.
This species brings posterity up to 3 – 4 times per year. In a litter there is only one cub, twins are rarity. The young growth is born rather advanced, covered with short wool. It is remarkable, that at this species habits like at cuscuses and lemurs were developed: the grown up cub leaves nest very early (at the age of one week, just having opened eyes), and gets on back of mother. It travels so approximately two weeks more, and then starts to follow mother independently. At this time it remembers species of plants having nectar-bearing flowers. At the age of two months it becomes completely independent and leaves mother which already bears the new cub at that time. Five-monthly sugar mungoes are already adult and also are capable to breed. Life expectancy is short, as well as at all small mammals: no more than 5 years.

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

The related species also lives in rainforests of East Madagascar – it is bee mungo (Floromungo apiphilus). This species differs from sugar mungo in dim brown colouring of the top part of body with longitudinal black strips on sides. Spots on its throat are yellowish and rather small.
The diet of bee mungo includes mostly honey which it steals in bee nests, and also larvae of these insects which represent the main source of protein of animal origin in its diet. It is dangerous to get such food: bees can kill small animal, having stung it enough of times. But bee mungo uses the special adaptation to ravage bee nests: it has strongly advanced musky glands, and the smell of their secretion frightens insects off. Getting into bee nest, animal lets out some drops of musky liquid. The extending smell forces bees to leave nest and to get off in dense clusters on branch at some distance while the animal quietly licks honey and eats larvae in their nest. In other features the biology of this species is similar to biology of sugar mungo.

Long-bodied pterogenettula (Pterogenettula prolonga)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Civets (Viverridae)

Habitat: Equatorial Africa, the top level of rainforest canopy.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Development of various anatomical adaptations at live beings depends on features of their environment. And the generality of inhabitancy results in formation of similar adaptations at unrelated species. It has taken place in woods of Equatorial Africa where on top-sized trees many species of mammals able to make long jumps were developed. If the forest canopy is dense, in it tree-climbing animals receive advantages. But in friable multileveled canopy experts in long jumps dominate. And on top of food pyramide there is also living “glider pilot”, but it is a true predator.
Predator of the top level of African woods is the long-bodied pterogenettula, small animal with extended body. It had descended from one of species of wood civets managed to go through the time of active hunting in last equatorial woods of Africa.
Body length of this predator is about 30 cm at all, and tail lenght is about 20 cm. Externally this animal is similar to any small weasel: at the pterogenettula there are rather short legs and the extended head. The animal has “marble” spotty colouring of large ring-formed spots on light background. It makes this predator imperceptible on the background of bark spotted with shadows of leaves. On head there are dark strips between eyes and nose, needing for recognition of neighbours.
Extremities are rather short, supplied with tenacious claws. But the most remarkable feature of appearance of these small mammals is the presence of small flying membrane between front and hind legs. For improvement of its “flying” properties on edge of membrane the fringe of black fluffy fur (as on sides at Holocene monkey Colobus) is stretched. The long tail of animal serves as rudder. Skilfully using force of wind, the pterogenettula can make jumps up to 20 meters long, losing in height only 8 - 10 meters. Operating flight, the pterogenettula can even catch small birds, preying them in sudden jump from an ambush. If attack was unsuccessful, the animal simply continues a jump, and sits on a tree. Flying up to the final point of jump, the animal weakens flying membrane, and seizes by claws of all four paws branch or bark of tree. Also this predator is able to swarm up trees dexterously, being not inferior to any squirrel in speed. The pterogenettula frequently hunts also a way traditional for predators, chasing catch among branches.
Favourite catch of the pterogenettula includes birds, but also it frequently hunts lizards, squirrels and squirrel guenons - dwarf monkeys of forest canopy.
This animal is strict solitary predator. Each individual chooses to itself the certain site in forest canopy, reaching not only in sides, but also upwards. Borders are marked by odorous secretions of specific glands of anal area.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of pterogenettulas is not present, and young animals may be met at any time of year. Per one year the female brings 2 packs (4 - 5 cubs in each litter). Young animals differ in darker colouring (light intervals between dark spots so are small, that colouring seems mesh-looking). Approximately at four-monthly age young animals start to study “flying” - to this time the flying membrane at them develops to the full. Sexual maturity comes at them at the age of 8 – 9 months, and life expectancy may be about 6 years.

Zibetonyx (Zibetonyx velox)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Civets (Viverridae)

Habitat: steppes of Central Asia (to the east from Fourseas).
Evolution proceeds by certain principles and laws which were just in the past, and undoubtfully will be just in the future. Therefore it is quite logical to expect of recurrence in the future of some phenomena taking place both in the far past, and within people.
One of such phenomena, convergence with representatives of canine family (Canidae) and Neocenic African predator pardinia, is demonstrating by zibetonyx, the inhabitant of plains in Central and Middle Asia. This gracefully build predatory animal is the descendant of mongooses (Herpestes) widely settled in Asia. Ecological plasticity of these small predators has permitted them to occupy temperate steppes of Asia successfully. And specific conditions of inhabiting - open plains with high grass - had generated shape of new predator.
Being quickly running predator, zibetonyx has characteristic shape: at it there are long legs and flexible backbone, small head on rather long and mobile neck. Jaws of zibetonyx are long and rather weak, its head resembles canine one. As against cats and pardinia very similar to it, the zibetonyx kills catch not by one sting: the pack inflicts to the chosen prey numerous wounds and exhausts it by long pursuit.
At zibetonyx there are sharp sense of smell and good hearing: animal frequently should hunt in high grass where sight can be practically useless. Ears of zibetonyx are rounded and wide, but they are located at head sides as at its ancestors. On the top part of neck the mane especially big at the adult male grows.
Colouring of wool is yellowish with large brown spots merging on sides and back to short longitudinal dabs. Up to winter (in habitats of zibetonyx snow does not fall, but weather becomes appreciable more cold in winter) wool becomes longer and then the mane of males is almost not appreciable.
Zibetonyx is ecological analogue of wolf, but a little bit reduced size. Animals of this species hunt in packs up to 10 – 15 animals preying approximately goat-sized herbivores.
The pack of zibetonyxes represents clan with expressed social connections and hierarchy. Clan is formed of posterity of one parental pair: all females from packs remain in clan, and maturing males leave it. Females in clan appear connected by consanguinty and represent two – three generations of one family. Males come to clan “from the side”, and between them and main pair (clan founders) there are relations of submission. If friction between males appears strong, clan can divide at all.
The clan is original “super-organism”: harmonious collective hunting is much more effective, than single’s one. Zibetonyxes are specialized for hunting quickly running herbivores: usually harelopes are their catch. However the important place in menu of zibetonyx is occupied also with small catch: animal willingly eats lizards, birds and large insects – beetles and grasshoppers.
Main way of hunting is prey chasing. For this purpose zibetonyxes from one clan stay in line and hide in grass at some distance from each other. Some individuals (as a rule males are they) drive harelope out from herd and chase it to animals waiting in ambush. “Passing on” chased animal to each other, predatorss absolutely not for long time take part in hunting but can “give all the best” completely, similarly to cheetah. Because these animals combine hunting tactic of wolf and speed of cheetah it has allowed them to become successful and prospering plain predators in hunting.
Daily life of clan takes place near natural shelters – small groups of bushes in which females arrange little lairs and practically in common rear young growth. Here animals have a rest after hunting. Near shelters zibetonyxes keep rather carefully and silently, and do not hunt here to not unmask place where cubs are reared. But borders of clan are plentifully marked by urine and musk secretions of repugnatorial glands. Usually adult males put marks, placing them on big stones, bushes and trunks of lonely growing trees.
Cubs (2 - 3 in pack) are born blind and covered by short wool. Their colouring is very dark: brown, paws and ears colored black. For the fourth day of life at them eyes open and then they start to hear. And ten-day cubs already try to walk. Only first two weeks of life young zibetonyx knows exclusively care of native mother. Growing up, it becomes object of gentle care at once of several females of clan, including old ones which can not bear posterity any more. They play role of “baby-sitters” when clan goes hunting. Such feature raises chances of survival even at deserted cubs. One female is capable to bear posterity twice per year.
At the age of four months young animals already change youthful dark colouring to spotty adult one. They study to hunt about two months, and then when females of clan have new cubs, young males are driven away. They can live vagrant life on border of territories of several clans, satisfying by remains of their catch. Frequently young males form independent packs try to drive out adult males from any not numerous clans, or to drive off young females from near clans. Usually bachelors are much more aggressive than males have formed pair. They easily get involved in fights though they can suffer serious loss from strong clans: females protecting posterity can fight up to death. Usually many young males perish in such skirmishes, and sex ratio in generated and breeding clan is 1 male for 2 – 4 females.
Sexual maturity at females takes place at second year of life, at males – at third year. Life expectancy is about 15 – 18 years.

Mauritian paralutra (Paralutra nana)
Order: Predatory (Carnivora)
Family: Civets (Viverridae)

Habitat: rivers of Mauritius Island.
The fauna of Mauritius Island had strongly suffered from people influence. Many species of animals representing groups which could not appear on island by natural way had been introduced to the island in different times. These animals were monkeys, rodents, various predators and domestic hoofed mammals. Such inflow of species new to the ecosystem of the island had taken place in very short term according evolutionary measures – within several centuries. As a result the native fauna and flora of island had degraded. People could interfere with influence of introduced species to the endemic nature of island with the help of nature protection actions till some time. But after the disappearance of mankind the rests of island primordial nature were destroyed by introduced species. In Neocene flora and fauna of Mauritius are presented mainly by descendants of introduced species had formed the complete and balanced ecosystem. In most cases inhabitants of islands differ in diminutiveness, and only few species of reptiles and birds are the exception. Descendants of introduced species had occupied all ecological niches were given to them by the nature.
Rivers of island are shallow and short. Descendants of the fishes introduced by people – true gourami (Osphronemus goramy) and goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) live here. Occasionally sea fishes swim into the rivers of island, and there are some species of river shrimps and crabs. These species make the basis of food pyramid at which top there is one endemic species of predators adapted to life in water – the Mauritian paralutra. This animal is the descendant of mongooses (Herpestes) introduced to the island and perfectly swimming predator. Paralutra eats any water animals which can be caught, and supplements a diet with tubers and sappy leaf petioles of water plants.
Mauritian paralutra is a small animal. This is the natural phenomenon in the world of small island, where resources and vital space are strictly limited. Length of adult animal is about 60 cm including long tail. By appearance and constitution paralutra resembles true otters (Lutra) of Holocene epoch: this is a short-legged animal with flexible body and membranes between toes. Fingers of forepaws of paralutra are not connected by membrane. They are sensitive and mobile, and have small claws. With their help paralutra searches in thickets of plants for shrimps and small fish. On the coast paralutra clears and combs fur by fingers. The wool of animal has grey color, on throat there is white spot, and cheeks are also white.
Head of paralutra is flattened, with short wide nose and long postorbital part of skull. Eyes are shifted to the forward part of head and upwards, therefore animal can breathe and look over vicinities, having put out from water only a part of head. Above the nose of animal there is a site of hairless skin with which help paralutra digs bottom in searches of crustaceans and roots of plants. External auricles at paralutra are lack, and the ear aperture at diving animal is closed by ring muscle. Tail of paralutra is long, flattened, covered with naked skin. At movement under water animal presses forepaws to body, and swims, wavy beding by all trunk. For slow and maneuverable swimming among underwater thickets animal uses hinder legs.
Paralutra eats small fish, not attacking large fishes. Hunting animals try to push aside school of fishes to the bank and attack them in common. Also this animal eats shrimps and crabs, and ravages nests of coastal birds.
Musk glands located under tail produce plentiful oily secret with which help paralutra makes its fur water-repellent. To not frighten off fish, this product of secretion till the process of evolution had lost smell that is completely atypical for civet. This mammal smears secretions of musk glands on forepaws, and pounds secretions on fur, carefully rubring them in hairs and combing them by claws. Ritual of mutual fur caring helps to support friendly relations between the representatives of species living together.
This is sociable mobile animal. Paralutras settle on steep riverbanks by whole families including some females connected by consanguinty, and males not related to them. The family of these animals digs out some inhabited holes, one of which is occupied with main pair. These animals breed the year round. The female can bring posterity two times per one year, 3 – 4 cubs in one litter. Preparing to birth of posterity, female deepens the hole and digs out wider inhabited chamber, rather than usually does. Cubs are born blind and deaf, covered with short dark wool. They start to move in hole at the age of about 12 days, and monthly cubs already are able to swim as well, as adults. At the age of 3 months young animal becomes completely independent; half-year old female already gives rise to posterity.
Paralutras constantly support contact with each other with the help of voice. They can utter various sounds – they chirr, peep and whistle. At danger animals yelp like small dog. After feeding animals gather and clean wool to each other. At the rest paralutras are cautious and prefer to gather at shallows and small islands in the middle of the river where it is impossible to creep to them imperceptibly. At suspicious sounds and sudden occurrence of large animals at the riverbank they disappear under water. Main enemies of paralutras are maurosmiluses – small saber-toothed ground predators of feline family; in water some sea fishes swimming to rivers of island can attack these animals.

Grumbling ant-mungo (Myrmungopsis myrmivorus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Ant-mungoes (Myrmivoridae)

Habitat: Atlas Mountains, Middle East, Southern Europe (coast line of Mediterranean swamps).

Picture by Tim Morris

Some species of live creatures have success in struggle for existence due to development of habitats and food resources inaccessible to other species. This mammal species belongs to such animals. It is the representative of new family of Neocenic mammal, eating exclusively social insects. The ant-mungoes family had descended from civet family: some small species of family had specialized in feeding by insects, and further this specialization has resulted in occurrence of new group of animals. Any species of small mungoes - animals proved their success in struggle for existing - became direct ancestor of representatives of present family.
The ant-mungo during evolution has got common for insectivorous animals appearance features: at this animal there are wedge-shaped extended head, small mouth, reduced lower jaw and teeth. The basic feeding organ is tongue, capable to extend forward approximately for one and half lengths of head. Nostrils are located on tip of muzzle, during the feeding process they close and animal holds the breath. Claws on ant-mungo forepaws are long, during movement the animal turns them in and supports on the back side of hand similarly to anteater or gorilla (in these places “callouses” of dense thick skin develop). Claws are used for digging insect nests and for protection against enemies. The wool of ant-mungo is short, dense and rigid, bristle-like. It protects animal from stings of insects. Besides animal has significant immunity to insect poison. Colouring of wool is dingy: monochromic gray-brown, stomach is light grey, legs and tail are darker. Forepaws are shorter then rear legs; at movement the back of animal is inclined forward. Digging out an ant hill or termitary ant-mungo can stand on hinder legs for a long time.
The grumbling ant-mungo reaches length 40 cm (tail is up to 30 cm) and weighs about 5 kgs.
Ant-mungo leads social habit of life differing in it from other Neocenic “anteaters”. This species lives in families of 4 - 7 animals (breeding pair of adult animals and cubs of the current year). Family occupies rather extensive territory with thickets of bushes and light forest where many nests of termites and ants are located. Except for them animals eat small snails, swallowing them entirely with shell, and also larvae of beetles and caterpillars of butterflies. Animals communicate among themselves with the help of sounds similar to rumbling and grunt.
This animal lives in hot, almost waterless areas, therefore it shows greatest activity in twilight. The group of ant-mungoes spends day in temporary hole dug on the eve on morning, and at the sunset leaves it for feeding. In the evening animals eat mainly ants gathering in ant hill for the night, at night – by termites coming on surface, and gather snails crept out on plants covered with dew in the morning, or search for beetle larvae under stones and tree bark.
Pairing of ant-mungoes occurs approximately for two months before rain season, and cubs are born just in this season. It is justified biologically: milk producing at the female takes plenty of water, and in rain season it is easier to fill up internal water stocks. Once a year, in the beginning of rain season female gives rise to five - eight cubs. They are born blind and deaf, female hides them in specially dug hole. She feeds posterity, coming back in hole some times for night. At this time male shows original care of her: he gorges on for future use, and then in addition feeds up the female, belching food to her mouth.
At one month after birth the young growth already can follow adult animals, and the female actively trains posterity to search for food. Usually pack stays with mother up to the following season of pairing when the parental pair banishes posterity from the territory. The young growth reaches sexual maturity at half-year age, and life expectancy is about 8 years. Main enemies of grumbling ant-mungoes are predatory mammals and snakes, but most of all these animals perishes during long droughts.

Awfulest marafil (Marafil perhorridus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Hyenas (Hyaenidae)

Habitat: South Africa, mountains and plains.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov
Improvement by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

In Neocene South Africa appeared separated from Holarctic zoogeographic area by the zone of impassable tropical woods. They had appeared when East Africa (Zinj Land) had separated from the main part of the continent, and the area of dry climate had considerably reduced because of evaporation of water from Tanganyica Passage.
The majority of groups of herbivores appeared in Neocene had not got here; therefore Southern Africa became one of places where many representatives of hoofed mammal fauna characteristic for Ethiopic zoogeographic area had kept. In South Africa in savanna descendants of water chevrotains similar to deer wander, and tall descendants of dwarf duiker antelopes similar to primitive giraffes browse foliage of trees. Representatives of animal kingdom of new epoch – huge descendants of pigs armed with massive bone outgrowths on head – also are found here. By the efficiency ecosystem of Southern Africa does not concede to North African savannas of early historical epoch.
The abundance of catch involves various predators, and relative stability of this region had allowed to some representatives of Holocene fauna of predators to be kept in South Africa. Among civets and cats of South Africa one local predator looks separated – it is the last representative of hyenas’ family. This family had been widely distributed in Eurasia in Holocene. Till the ice age some of its representatives had wandered in snow-covered woods of Europe, tolerating severe winters. But after mass extinction of hoofed mammals in the areas mastered by people the area of family was sharply reduced. In historical epoch the family was submitted only by five species, one of which was extremely rare.
Awfulest marafil (“marafil” is the Arabian name of hyaena), the descendant of spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) widely settled in past, lives in South Africa This animal represents the deification of “predator” concept, doubtlessly occupying the top of food pyramid in local ecosystems.
Awfulest marafil is the largest species of hyenas among ever dwelt on Earth, and, obviously, it is the largest representative of the carnivore order in Neocene. Growth of the adult female at a shoulder reaches two meters at weight about 700 kgs. Male is smaller, rather than female: it weighs about 500 kgs and differs in lighter constitution. By the appearance marafil resembles fossil Arctodus bear dwelt in Pleistocene at the territory of North America. The female of marafil differs in sloping back (back legs are shorter a little, rather than front ones) and wide chest. Forepaws at it are very muscular – with their help the animal knocks prey off feet. Feet at the female of marafil are rather wide due to what animal can chase prey on marshy ground. At the animal there is short tail with hairy brush of lengthened hair on the tip.
At marafil there is short head with powerful high jaws. Canines are rather short; molars and premolars of animal work as crushing tool – marafil female can shatter the backbone of rhinoceros-sized prey by one bite.
The skin of marafil female is covered with rough short wool of brown color. There are vertical strips of black color on shoulders and sides and some black spots on hips (sometimes they may be absent). Wool on head of animal is black, but around of mouth there is a strip of white wool – this attribute has the important value at the communication of animals. Marafils, especially females of this species, are rather aggressive animals, and in many cases it is vital for them to be able to distinguish mood of the congener from afar to behave in appropriate way.
Very sharp sexual dimorphism is characteristic for marafils. It is shown not only in difference of body sizes, but even in colouring. Skin of marafil male is grey with numerous black spots merging on shoulders to vertical strips. On the neck of male there is a mane of long grey hair. Males look more harmonous and long-legged, rather than females and can run much faster. Also at the male there is longer and narrow muzzle with more advanced canines which partly jut out from closed mouth.
Males live and hunt in packs of ten individuals, living mainly at the boundary of territories of female clans. They do not make constant refuges, and spend the night in the same place no more than two nights in succession. Females of marafils, on the contrary, make constant lairs in bush and come back there every day. They lodge in clans of 4 – 5 individuals connected by consanguinty (as a rule, it is the female and her senior daughters). The number of marafil males in population is smaller, than the number of females: it is connected with the high mortality level of these animals at young age. When young marafils grow up, young females dominate over males compelled to be content with the rests of their catch. When the young marafil male reaches about one-year-old age, it is expelled from clan, and some time it leads single life, eating the scraps had remained after hunting of parental clan. Groups of marafil males can unite, forming male packs.
Sexual dimorphism of marafils is shown also in hunting preferences: there are different catch and different hunting tactics at males and females. Females chase mainly sluggish catch – huge bullhogs. Males prefer to hunt swift-footed hoofed mammals, badgering them by pack like wolves. Hunting habits at different genders also differ – females hunt at night, attacking resting and feeding animals, and use during hunting sharp sense of smell. Males hunt in day time with the help of sight.
Marafil females being in group are very aggressive to neighbours. It happens they can attack males of their own species, kill and eat them as if other prey. Therefore pairing at marafils occurs outside of territory of female clan. For pairing males mark with urine objects well appreciable from afar (for example, lonely growing tree, large stone or termitary) at the edge of territory of females, and wait for female near this place. Thus they drive other males off from the marked sign. Also males leave some of labels at the territory where the female clan lives. Usually they do at the afternoon before females will leave on hunting. But at the same time males try to keep together and to be on alert. They succeed to have a sleep only in second half of night and in the morning approximately till midday when females come back home from hunting. The female ready to pairing leaves clan, finds the site marked by males, and males pair with it by turns. Before pairing the female shows absence of aggression to males: she lowers head and presses ears. Males showing the superiority run near her by whole pack with lifted heads and occasionally bite the female to shoulders and groats.
Similarly to all large animals, marafils breed seldom: each female gives rise to posterity alternate years. Pregnancy lasts about half-year, and cubs are born to the beginning of rain season. They suck milk till four – five months, but start to try meat food at the third month of life. In litter at one marafil female it happens three – four cubs. Usually only half of posterity survives up to independence.
Young females become able to breeding at the age of 4 years, and males since 3 years. Life expectancy at females of this species reaches 50 years and more, and males seldom live up to 40 years.

Awful daggerclawer (Pugionyx deimus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Cats (Felidae)

Habitat: Eastern Asia, Far East (area of moderate and subtropical climate), flatland woods, foothills.

Picture by Sauron from FurNation

In Holocene the cats family has suffered the big damage from human activity. Number of large cats was sharply reduced, and their areas have catastrophically decreased. Small cats have suffered from hunting for the sake of valuable fur. The unique representative of family has received the big advantages in a survival in human epoch is the domestic cat Felis catus. Due to people this predator was settled practically in whole world. It became a stimul for evolution of the present species. As against the majority of domestic animals dependent on people, the domestic cat easily runs wild. Therefore after disappearance of people this species have not died out in common with them, and have continued to exist. The majority of Neocene felines descend from several species of rather small cats have survived hunting and ecological crisis.
Cats are successful predators; therefore descendants of domestic cats have taken the high place appropriate to their abilities in food pyramids of new biosphere. And in Neocene among them large animals from the number of the most terrible land predators of Earth have appeared. One of them is the awful daggerclawer, specialized large prey hunter.
It is very large cat: it is lion-sized, but it seems larger because of longer legs. At daggerclawers characteristic features of appearance, common for cats, were kept: rather short jaws, large canines, binocular sight. Daggerclawers are solitary animals.
The body of daggerclawers (in the Neocene world there are few species of these cats) is covered with fluffy wool. At the awful daggerclawer the colour of wool is similar to “tortoise-shell” color of some domestic cats - on grey background there are big, almost symmetric dark spots. Tail of animal is long, on it spots merge to non-uniform cross strips. A tip of tail of animal is white. White sites are on the bottom part of muzzle; throat and breast are also white. On hinder legs of animals of this species occasionally there are white “stockings”. Forepaws of daggerclawers are colored contrastly and brightly: from an elbow up to fingers they are covered with alternating wide black and white strips. This colouring is the important element in behaviour of animals as it is used in rituals of an establishment of domination. It is shown only at adult animal of both sexes. Not sexual matured animals have dark forepaws.
At capture of catch cats actively use forepaws. And this feature of behaviour has received development at the present species and has reached high specialization. On paws of cats there are five fingers from which four ones base on the ground, and the first, the shortest one, does not touch ground. At daggerclawers on first fingers of forepaws crescent claws of huge size (its length is up to 20 cm) were developed. In rest this claw is pressed to the paw and its end is directed back, not preventing walking and running. On the internal sides of wrists of the animal there are sites of very thick cornificate skin, and this claw adjoins directly to this one. Also this claw is partly retracted in skin cover. The “fighting” claw of the daggerclawer is partly similar to claws of small predatory dinosaurs like Deinonychus and Velociraptor.
The daggerclawer eats large ground animals. Attacking prey, it at first creeps to it to probably closer distance, and then rushes to the planned victim. Due to long legs it can accelerate momentum up to 60 kms per hour on the short distance. At the moment of solving jump the animal shows its “fighting” claws, and puts to the victim deep wounds by them. When impact has falled on the neck, catch of the daggerclawer, even having escaped from its claws, quickly bleeds profusely and perishes. In case of successful attack the daggerclawer, except for impact by claws, delivers to prey sting in neck or in the basis of skull: this is the “inheritance” stayed from its ancestor, the domestic cat.
All daggerclawers are solitary territorial animals. Usually at them as at tigers, the territory of the male includes territories of several females. Animals mark territory, fleecing bark from trees, and rubring the bared wood with a secret of chin repugnatorial glands. Males also mark the territory by urine. During an establishment of domination relations animals pay special attention to colouring of forepaws of the contender: the more contrast coloring, the animal having it is stronger. At young animal paws are dark; at old ones they are “gray-haired”: strips become not so contrast. Duels for territory and place in hierarchy, as a rule, are limited by demonstration of “stretching” of contenders: thus animals by turns bend backs and extend forward forepaws, showing their colouring. “Stretching”, each animal tears off by claws a part of grass, breaking through deep furrow by “fighting” claw. Such ritual behaviour helps to avoid fight, and contenders can estimate force each other. It is accompanied by loud mewing and squeal.
Pairing occurs in middle of winter, kittens (2 - 4) are born in first half of spring. They are covered with dark wool, blind and deaf. The female feeds with them with milk about four months, and then even more half-year young animals keep with mother. They abandon her in winter, and more often they are banished by males during a rut.
Sexual maturity comes approximately at three-year age. At this time at males strips on forepaws start to appear. But most successfully males are coupled approximately since the fifth year of life: females give obvious preference to males with striped forepaws.
Life expectancy of the awful daggerclawer reaches 30 years.
There are some other species of daggerclawers distinguished in smaller size in East Asia in moderate and subtropical latitudes:
Fisher daggerclawer (Pugionyx piscivorus) is a predator up to half meter at a shoulder. Length of its body is about one meter; a tail is about 60 cm. The head is dark with white area on the tip of muzzle and throat, above eyes there are white spots; wool has striped colouring. Forepaws up to an elbow are white, occasionally on them there are one - two cross strips. The claw is rather larger, than at the awful daggerclawer: its length is about 15 cm. In rest it is strongly unbend back, resembling cock heel.
The animal inhabits marshlands, riverbanks and lakes. The fisher daggerclawer willingly swims and prefers to not leave water far. The animal eats fish and aquatic animals: turtles, frogs, waterfowl and rodents.
Bird-catching daggerclawer (P. saltatus) is the smallst species of genus (length of body not including tail is about 60 cm; tail is about half meter long). It is settled more widely than other species: this cat inhabits areas from plains up to mountain woods. It also differs in especial addition: hinder legs are strong, appreciably longer than forepaws (back is inclined forward). Colouring of wool is spotty: on background from sand up to red there are dark brown spots. Forepaws armed with sharp crescent claws are colored black with white spots. This animal eats mainly birds. It dexterously forces down flying up birds, killing for one jump up to five ones from flight. It eats catch, keeping it in forepaws and sitting on back legs (by same habits Holocene caracal (Felis caracal) had differed).

The idea of the present animals is prompted by Simon, the participant of forum.

Menkw (Parafelis menkw)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Felids (Felidae)

Habitat: mountain forests of Altai, the Far East.

Picture by Amplion

Among pets only few species had gone through disappearance of mankind. Selecting breeds of various domestic animals, people had changed their physiology and behaviour so deep, that many breeds appeared as a result of domestication were completely unable to exist independently. But nevertheless there were the exceptions – primitive breeds of domestic animals ran wild easily. Also the process of adaptation to wild life passed successfully in conditions of isolation and absence of predators – strange sheep descendants in New Zealand have appeared this way. But domestic cat (Felis cattus) appeared the champion in adaptation to life in a nature, and people did not manage to subordinate it to their will completely. Descendants of domestic cats live on various continents and islands. At the territory of Central and Eastern Asia extensive mountain areas are inhabited by one of such species – menkw*, the universal predator, the expert in survival in mountain forests.
In its ecology menkw is the analogue of leopard, but in shape it resembles lion a little. The basic colouring of this animal is brown with a pattern of spots and cross strips on paws and tail. The wool on trunk is almost monophonic, pattern of vertical strips is present only at kittens to the age of about one year, and completely vanishes during an autumn fall-off. Male of this species is larger than female and has short small mane covering nape, neck and forward part of breast. In autumn animals change wool to winter fur, longer and lighter in color.
The length of menkw body from head up to a tail is about 140 cm; tail is 90 – 100 cm long. Weight of adult individual may reach 75 kg, mature males frequently weigh over 80 kg. This predator hunts any animals it can catch, from a rat up to boar in size. This animal usually hunts from an ambush, suiting it near tracks of herbivores in bushes or behind the fallen tree. This predator frequently jumps on prey from tree, choosing for ambush thick branch among foliage. This predator kills prey by strong bite in throat, simultaneously throttling it and biting through blood vessels of neck by canines.
This species is territorial; adult male occupies territory measuring over 60 square kilometers. In male territory up to 5 females – its harem – and posterity up to one and half years old live. Each morning male declares its rights to the territory with loud call. It has no constant shelter and within several days walks riond its territory, renewing border marks. For this purpose it tears bark on trees and also waters it with urine. Nevertheless, these animals are rather tolerant to each other: the meeting of two males out of breeding season is usually finished only in force demonstrations. Males rear wool and yell loudly, trying to impress the opponent, but enter fight seldom.
Pairing at menkw takes place in winter or in early spring. At this time boundary skirmishes between males become more often and the number of fights grows. They frequently come to an end with ragged ears and scars on shoulders. In especially severe duels one of males can even receive fatal traumas. Pregnancy of female lasts till 90 – 100 days; usually 3 – 4 kittens are born. For delivery female chooses reliable shelter, as a rule, a tree trunk rotten out from within or a cave. She feeds cubs with milk within 2 months. Kittens are born blind and open eyes at the age of 3 weeks. The young growth of this species differs from adult individuals with visible vertical strips on sides which vanish with the years. They are independent at the age of 5 months and reach sexual maturity at two-year-old age. With approach of this age females join the next groups of menkws, and males should win territory and females to themselves, or wander on boundary territories of stronger males. Life expectancy is about 35 years.

* Menkw is a forest goblin in mythology of Siberian folks.

This species of mammals was discovered by Nick, the forum member.

Tiger raptor cat (Felinoraptor tigrinus)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Felids (Felidae)

Habitat: South America, subtropical and temperate areas; light forests and woods in foothills.

Picture by Amplion

At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene human activity had caused the mass extinction of large herbivores. It had resulted in extinction of set of predators, including large cats of genera Panthera (the majority of large cats), Uncia (snow leopard), Acinonyx (cheetah). In same time many smaller cats became the extremely rare as a result of hunting or destruction of natural environment. However, the felid family had survived in Neocene. But in most cases it is the consequence of worldwide settling of domestic cats which descendants had run wild and had taken part in formation of new ecosystems in various parts of the world.
In Neocene connection of South America with other continents had interrupted again. Some time in early Neocene the Antilles land bridge existed, and using it land animals could settle, but then it had disappeared. In conditions of isolation descendants of puma (Felis concolor) had turned to very large predators of frightening appearance. These cats of South America represent the unite group which has the general distinctive attribute – the original adaptation for killing of large prey. The inner toe on hind leg of these cats had strongly changed: it became little bit shorter than the others, but on it the huge strong claw is developed. In rest it is retracted into special sac formed by skin plica. When these cats attack prey, they seize it by forepaws and tear prey’s flesh between ribs or on the stomach by “battle” claw of rear legs. This adaptation resembles very much the feature of hind legs anatomy of small theropod dinosaurs of Cretaceous, and hence the name of such predators – raptor cats. It is the original experiment of evolution: in South America the kind of contrast to Asian daggerclawers, massive cats with similar “battle” claw developed on forepaw had evolved.
The constitution of these predators is rather light and “universal”, permitting them to swarm up trees and to move on rocks good. Due to this feature raptor cats are widely settled in South America in places where enough plenty of large herbivores lives. They are the specialized hunters on large sluggish extraction - large rodents barocavia and giant paca. Occasionally they attack on young tapirotheres and groundsloth rodents. These cats attack prey from an ambush, strike it a blow by “battle” claws, and jump off aside. If the animal had not died from the first attack, the cat pursues prey, not repeating attack while the victim will die from loss of blood.
In South America three well differing species of these large cats live. Largest of them is tiger raptor cat – the lion-sized predator. This species has dark-rusty skin with numerous vertical strips of black color on body and paws. Ears and top part of head of this cat are black, and cheeks and throat are white. Tiger raptor cat inhabits flat districts and foothills, preferring the mosaic landscape where areas of grasslands, woods and rivers are combined. It is a solitary predator; each individual occupies extensive territory up to 30 square kilometers in area. Despite of large size, tiger raptor cat is freely able to swarm up trees and rocks and also to swim. It easily attacks prey in water, and its prey may often become barocavia or giant paca – semi-aquatic rodents. Occasionally these cats catch young thyranncharaxes - huge predatory characid fishes.
This species of cats marks borders of territory by urine, leaving it on bushes, tree trunks and termitaries. The territory of the male substantially overlaps territories of several females living in the neighbourhood. Usually females concern tolerantly enough to the presence of male out of breeding season, though the female with cubs or near the prey can be aggressive to him. Males concern to each other much more aggressively, and at the meeting necessarily display the force to each other. This demonstration of force at well armed predators passes very originally, practically without the direct contact: they sort out their relationships in original competition, by turns or nearly so simultaneously jumping on tree trunk. Having seized claws in bark, males hang on a trunk till some seconds, hissing against each other, and then jump off. Usually the winner is the one jumping higher and keeping on tree for longer time. If males are equal in force, they can combat. Also the adult male concerns aggressively to male youngsters; the majority of them perish till first months of independent life from paws of adult males. In rare cases the old male can become cannibal and steal cubs at females living in the neighbourhood.
Courting the female, the male leaves marks in her territory to give the female the opportunity to get accustom gradually to his presence. “Unready” female can rush on the male if he will appear too suddenly – usually it happens so at young males. The female is ready to pairing till several days, and all this time the male preserves her against other males, and frequently pairs with her. When the rut stops, female banishes the male, showing aggression to him.
After six-monthly pregnancy, in the beginning of rain season female gives rise to the litter of from two to eight cubs. In big litter usually only three or four cubs have an opportunity to grow up to independence. For rearing of posterity the female arranges the den in bush or in wide hole dug out additionally to the necessary size. Cubs are born blind and deaf. Their wool has the same strips as at adult individuals, but strips are rather wide; therefore cubs seem darker, than adult individuals. At three-monthly age they leave a den and start to study to hunt actively. Young animals spend with mother about one and a half years, therefore the female brings posterity only once in two years. Young animals become sexually mature at the age of three years.
The close species lives in mountains of South America: the Andean raptor cat (Felinoraptor andinus). It is little bit lower growth, than tiger raptor cat, but is built much stronger and heavier than it. The “battle” claw on hind legs at this species is advanced not so extremely – in mountains there is less number of large prey, and Andean raptor cat eats mostly smaller animals – birds and rodents. But it also hunts young mountain tapirotheres.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

One more species, the Chilean, or western raptor cat (Felinoraptor occidentalis), lives in narrow land strip between Andes and Pacific coast of South America. It is settled from equatorial latitudes up to Tierra del Fuego. This species of cats differs in pale yellow skin with some dark spots. Northern populations living in warm latitudes have more gracile constitution and wider ears, and southern ones, living in areas of cool climate, are smaller and short-legged, with almost one-colour rich fur. In the extreme south of South America this species of cats is superseded by larger Andean raptor cat. Chilean raptor cat almost does not live in mountains, preferring woods in foothills and in plain areas. These predators search for food even at the coastal strip, and frequently eat bodies of dead algocetids cast ashore during the storm.

Felimalagasia (Felimalagasia gracilissima)
Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)
Family: Felids (Felidae)
Habitat: Madagascar, various types of forests.

Picture by Amplion

When humans appeared on the Madagascar, they heavily damaged if not outright destroyed the unique ecosystem of the island. The large animals became extinct due to the hunting and deforestation. Destroying of natural habitants at the end of the mankind era led to the extinction of fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), the largest predator of the island. The smaller viverrids survived but they have become mostly land-based predators or small climbing animals. The ecological niche of large climbing predator was given to another animal descending from domestic cat. It has developed a set of adaptation to hunt fast-climbing and careful prey and has become a beast who looks much like a huge marten. It’s felimalgasia, the domineering predator of forest canopy occupying the top of food chain.
Felimalgasia spends almost all the time in the trees but sometimes gets down to the earth during the hunt. The build of the animal is adopted for fast movement in forest canopy. The legs of felimalgasia are relatively shorter than those of cats, the body is longer- the height of animal is only 50 cm while the length is up to 150 cm without the tail. The spine is incredibly flexible- the long neck permits to turn the head around on 180°, and before the jump the animal can fold itself in two. The long tail serves as balancing pole during the jumps, the movements of tail provide necessary balance.
Small head with short stout is inherited from domestic cats. The ears are relatively wide, with rounded tips: the hearing of felimalgasia is very acute. The eyes in the front of head provide stereoscopic eyesight which is really important for tree-climbers. The mouth opens wide. The animal uses its columnar teeth to kill birds with relatively fragile bones, biting them through the spine or the base of scull. Big animals such as lemurs are killed with bites in the tissue of the neck while being held in place with paws. Felimalgasia has relatively good sense of smell, well-developed whiskers help the animal to orient in forest canopy even in the dark.
The colour of fur serves camouflaging purposes. The main colour is a shade of yellow, it’s covered with multiple wide spots, forming long lengthwise stripes on head and neck. The pattern of spots is individual. On the tail stripes form rings and the main colour changes from yellow to white. With the stripy end of the tail felimalgasia sends visual signals to the others of her species, but that animal being solitary rarely has need for communication save for the mating season.
The usual prey of felimalagasia is lemurs and birds; though sometimes it’s smaller animals such as frogs, lizards and even small insects.
The animal tags its territory by tearing the rind of the trees with its claws. The territory of each adult animal is about 30 square cm. Only during the heat the female tags the territory with urine which has specific smell during that period. Felimalgasia rarely climbs down from the trees so the animal doesn’t dig its feces, but urinates and defecates from the trees and feces fall down to the ground. Because of that the inhabitants of forest canopy can’t detect its presence, and hunt in the underbush happens relatively rarely.
The litter of female happens once in a year and includes up to 5 kittens, but only two or three of them reach maturity. The female makes its den in relatively large hollow or usurps big bird nest (for example the one of false macaws) which is adopted to suit its basic needs. The kittens are different from adults in colour, the dark spots on their fur are relatively bigger. The kittens stay with their mother till they’re 5 month old – usually by that time female has already mated with another male and is pregnant again. The maturity is reached at the age of 2 years; the life span of felimalgasia is up to 20 years.

Translated by Charles, the forum guest.

Noonda (Deinothera nunda)
Order: Carnivors (Carnivora)
Family: Felids (Felidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, tropical forests and woodlands.
In human epoch many large cats had practically died out because of disappearance of animals being their food, and because of direct extermination by people which saw the competitors and direct threat in them. Cats of genus Panthera included the largest representatives of family had suffered the greatest losses. Only leopard (Panthera pardus) could go through mass extinction at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene because it could eat small prey and was ecologically plastic species. This species also had suffered strongly because of hunting and destruction of habitats, and by the end of Holocene there were only isolated populations of these animals that was an incitement to speciation after human disappearance. One of Neocene descendants of leopard is noonda, the largest predator of Zinj Land, East African subcontinent. The name “noonday” descends from Swahili fairy tales where the huge man-eating leopard was called so.
Noonda is very large, tiger-sized cat. It is a predator of heavy constitution adapted to hunting for large prey. Forepaws are little bit longer and thicker than rear legs are, because of what noonda’s back is sloping a little. This species has bright red fur with large dark irregular-shaped spots. Ears of animal are black with white tips; on cheeks characteristic “whiskers” of lengthened hair grow, as if at Holocene tigers. Tail is very long; at males it is covered with rich wool with alternating black and white strips; at females and sexually immature animals wool on tail is less rich, colored monophonic black. Colouring of tail is very important at establishment of domination relations; at old males wool on tail is thicker.
Noonda prefers to hunt large prey – great goatlopes, bikifaru, megaardvarks and cataphractheriums. These cats attack prey from an ambush and actively use forepaws killing it. If prey is of rather gracile constitution, predator simply breaks its backbone by heavy paws; for strengthening of impact pads of forepaws are covered with thick cornificated skin. If prey has heavy constitution, noonda delivers to it blows by 10-centimeter long claws on internal side of forepaws. If the animal had not died after the first attack, noonda stops attack and simply follows prey while it will be lost from loss of blood. Because of heavy constitution noonda can not swarm up trees as good, as its ancestor did, and hides prey in bushes more often.
This cat is solitary territorial animal; each individual needs about 20 – 30 square kilometers of territory. Noonda males mark borders of the territory with urine, leaving it on stubs, branches and trunks of trees; females also use secretion of anal glands. The male’s territory includes partly or completely territories of several females. Meeting each other, males behave aggressively, but more often the meeting finishes without fight which can be resulted in drawing of dangerous wounds. Establishing their relations, males swing tail in sides, scratch ground by forepaws and growl loudly. Usually one having thicker wool on tail wins – it is a sign of presence of plenty of testosterone hormone in blood.
Male learns about readiness of the female for pairing by smell of urine, with which she marks her territory. The heat period at female lasts till about a week. All this time male keeps near to the female and frequently copulated with her, and leaves her at the end of heat period. Breeding rate at this species is rather slow. After three-monthly pregnancy the female gives birth to one up to four cubs in reliable refuge. Cubs are born blind and only 700 grammes weigh; spots on their wool are located denser. Since three months age cubs already start to show independence and even try to hunt small prey. After the cub has reached age of two years, mother banishes it. At the age of four years noondas reach sexual maturity.
Life expectancy of noonday is up to 30 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Ayren, the forum member.

Ant lemur (Myrmelemur pumilis)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Dwarf lemurs (Cheirogalidae)

Habitat: Madagascar, light forests and shrubby savannas.

Pictures by Alexander Smyslov

Strangely enough, there is some advantage in the phenomenon of mass extinction for certain representatives of fauna and flora. When the great number of live beings dies out, the survived species have a possibility to fill become empty ecological niches and to begin active speciation. After the extinction which had taken place at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene, among animals of Madagascar this process started actively, and the forests of the island were again filled with life.
In twilight and at sunrise among bushes in Madagascar light forests it is possible to see one of representatives of new fauna of this island: the small animal climbs among branches, from time to time tearing off pieces of bark and raking fallen leaves in search of insects. It has an especial interests for the nests of social insects – termites or ants. Having found such nest, this small animal stops fussy movements and starts to eat slowly: having risen on hind legs, it digs out the dwelling of insects and quickly licks off its inhabitants.
This animal, the direct descendant of representatives of native fauna of Madagascar, is named ant lemur. It is a small species of primates: length of the body is up to 15 cm, the tail – up to 20 cm.
Ant lemur is adapted for feeding on insects. Its tongue is elongated a little and is covered with sticky saliva which is exuded from large salivary glands. On fore- and third fingers of this primate the main tool for destruction of nests of insects grows: these are big claws. Fingers are joined by the common cover of skin, and look like one thick finger with double claw. Bones of these fingers are thick – due to such fingers ant lemur ruins even firm nests of termites. If fingers can’t cope with a nest of insects, teeth are used: forward incisors on upper and lower jaws are very large, similar a little to incisors of rodents.
Ant lemur leads mainly arboreal way of life though could be found on the ground often. Because of very large claws ant lemur moves on the ground on two legs, holding forepaws hanging. Forepaws of this lemur keep the characteristic for primates ability to grasping. The thumb is opposed to fourth and little finger, forming strong hold. Fore- and third fingers during the climbing rise, and don’t prevent to clasp branches. Hands are covered with dark wool. Hind legs of this animal are not so specialised, but the thumb is opposed to the rest fingers.
The head of ant lemur is roundish, with the flattened face and short muzzle. Canines are very short, and premolars have sharp cutting edge. The face is covered with dense short fur of black color. Eyes are large; iris of eyes is brown. Ears are short.
Hair of male is bright red, straw-colored at female. Tail is long; it is used as the balance weight during the climbing. On the tip of the tail bright black-and-white tuft grows. Threat sign at ant lemurs is vibrating tail in the air.
Once a year the female gives birth to only one young. It is covered with dark wool, and gets coloring of adult animals only at maturity. The first two months of life it stays on mother’s back, gradually training to climb on trees and to search for food. It seizes wool of the mother by large fingers. When claws start to grow strongly and cause pain to its mother, she allows the cub to travel astride her less often. Within about five months the young keeps near mother, then leaves her and leads solitary life.
Social insects represent the specific food resource: their nests are located rather seldom. Because of it ant lemurs live solitarily; only the female and young may be met together. Ant lemur marks the territory with urine, regularly renewing the marks.
This small animal carefully protects the territory from congeners. If two ant lemurs meet each other on the border of the individual territories, they start to display the rights to the territory: having risen up tails, they show black-and-white tufts and stridently squeal and grin simultaneously. Only the female ready to pairing allows a male to the territory, but right after pairing she banishes him.
This lemur spends day and night in shelters – usually in hollows or hollow trunks of trees. The most active time of feeding is at sunrise when nocturnal predators already leave to sleep, and daytime ones didn’t wake up yet. In the evening this lemur also leaves to feeding, but that time it is more careful.
As at all small animals, life expectancy of ant lemurs is not so great: no more than 10 years. Their natural enemies are snakes and birds of prey. Young animals occasionally perish having not distinguished dangerous species of ants: they sting them to death.

Translated by Alexander Smyslov.

Red-masked lemur (Eulemur rubrifrons)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: True Lemurs (Lemuridae)

Habitat: forests and wooded plains of Madagascar
In Neocene the geography of Madagascar island did not undergo any significant changes – only after the split of African continent and separating of Zinj Land this island was displaced eastwards in common with this subcontinent. Climate of the Earth became more humid, and the regions of Madagascar covered with woodlands had spreaded considerably. Also the human disappearance benefited to various inhabitants of the island, including the lemurs – the distant relatives of people.
Red-masked lemur is one of the more widespread Malagasy species. This is a rather large primate that reaches up to one-and-a-half meters in length, and one meter goes to the tail, which is covered with especially bright red fur. The snout of this mammal looks like dog’s one in shape, but is shorter and wider. Ears are small and bordered with a strip of elongated brown fur. The eyes are large; the color of the iris is sexually dimorphic: in males the iris is yellow, in females brown or dark orange.
The color of tail noticeably contrasts with the color of fur on animal’s body - this primate is covered in light grey fur with darker vertical strips. The nape, the back of the head, the rear side of neck and arms of animals of both genders are covered in dark-brown fur. A spot of ochre-red fur, which is located on forehead, temples and nose bridge in the adult beasts (hence the name) sharply contrasts with it. The snout, the cheeks and the lower jaw of these animals are white. The coloration of red-masked lemurs has an expressed sexual dimorphism and age-related changeability: females are colored lighter than males (the background color of fur may be almost white or slightly beige), and the adolescents have less developed stripes. These special features of fur coloration help the animals to follow and to track each other: red-masked lemur has well-developed chromatic vision, and animals exchange visual signals with each other with the aid of their vividly colored tails. But this primate also frequently uses its sense of smell in the search for food and to mark the boundaries of its territory with the aid of odorous urine.
The basic food of red-masked lemur includes various fruits, which these animals eat in a great quantity, up to 80% of the mass of their day ration. Nevertheless, they also diversify their diet with various invertebrates (mostly insects), and also with honey, nectar and some species of tree fungi, and also with fresh leaves.
Red-masked lemurs are social mammals living in rather large groups, which number from 15 to 25 animals. In each group there is the dominant male and its underlings, but the majority of animals are females and juveniles.
Due to the features of their diet, red-masked lemurs are migrating animals. Each group inhabits an extensive territory up to several dozens of square kilometers. The boundaries of each territory are not too strictly observed, and the border zones of adjacent group may take up to one third of each separate group territory. The markers left by animals rather tell the news about each group instead of claiming exceptional rights to the territory. The group of animals constantly roams through its territory in search of fruit-bearing trees, staying in one or another territory no more than till several days. Groups of lemurs are frequently followed by predatory birds and mammals attacking the old, young or sick individuals that fell behind.
Red-masked lemurs are equally confident both on the ground and in trees: their limbs are long and strong enough even to run at a galloping speed for short distances. And they often escape on the ground from predatory birds and snakes, especially in the woodlands.
The mating period of red-masked lemur takes place in the second half of spring, when mature males chase away the adolescents and fight with each other for the leadership in the group. Hierarchy is established by crying contests – the rivals shout to each other until one of them gives up and becomes silent. The alpha male obtains harem of 3-4 females, which have high rank in the hierarchy of the group, and the vanquished males can count only to mate with one female that stands on one of the lower steps in the group hierarchy. The alpha male does not prevent it, but it does not allow other males to approach to his own females, while they are in estrus. After half a year after mating females give birth to one or two rather large offspring.
The sexual maturity of young animals comes at the age of two years. The usual life expectancy of red-masked lemur is 10-12 years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Bhut, the forum member.
Translated by Bhut.

Hanging lemur (Scyolemur quadrimanus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Hanging lemurs (Pendulemuridae)

Habitat: Madagascar, rainforests.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In early historical epoch on Madagascar representatives of original family of lemurs still lived – so-called “sloth lemurs” (Paleopropithecidae). But after human colonization of island their destiny appeared sad: “freshest” of the found bones of these animals carry the traces testifying to hunting and cutting of carcasses of these animals. Thus, it is obvious, that they became one of many victims of human activity promoting impoverishment of island fauna.
After human disappearance and the ending of epoch of mass extinction the few survived species of lemurs had actively started to evolve, developing new forms and occupying accessible ecological niches. Species of lemur family (Lemuridae) changed especially actively. One of their descendants had mastered an ecological niche occupied earlier by sloths in America, and by lemurs of Paleopropithecidae family at Madagascar. It differs from ancestors in so great degree that represents the separate family Pendulemuridae. This species is hanging lemur.
Hanging lemur is medium-sized primate: it weighs about 10 kg at body length up to half meter. This animal has long tail which usually hangs downwards. The role of this tail in life of hanging lemur is great: it is used for recognition of congeners. At the tip of tail the switch of long hair of black-and-white coloring grows, carrying out alarm function. It is possible to tell, that it is “the mirror reflection” of its distant ancestor, ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), only turned upside down. Watching such switches, appreciable from afar, animals distinguish presence of congeners on next trees. In case of danger tail is drawn in, and animal nestles against the branch, densely clasping it by paws. In such position it is more difficult to attack it for enemy (usually for bird of prey). This lemur protects itself against predators from among mammals, biting strongly.
The wool of animal has the colouring appropriate to its usual position on tree: back is yellowish-brown, and stomach is dark, almost black. It is obviously expressed countershadow colouring: when sun lights up hanging lemur, light transforms it into flat silhouette difficultly distinct among branches.
This species of primates spends almost all life, hanging back downwards on tree branches (hence the name “Scyolemur”, meaning “lemur in shadow”). All paws of animal are prehensile and can work as hands, grasping branches. Because of it Hip joint is very mobile: if necessary, lemur can freely tear food from branch and bring it to mouth by hind leg. Fingers and toes are very long (the palm length is approximately equal to forearm lenght, and fingers make 2/3 of its length); thumb and big toe can oppose to other fingers/toes. The surface of palms and soles is covered with rough skin with advanced papillary combs. If necessary this lemur can swarm up tree trunk in the same manner as other lemurs, back upwards, clasping branches by hands and feet. This animal moves on the ground extremely seldom and very hardly, basing on external edge of feet and palms.
Neck of hanging lemur is almost as flexible, as at owls: the head of animal can turn to 270 degrees. Muzzle of animal is short and wide: the basis of diet of this animal is made of rigid leaves, including the leaves of trees containing rubber. Therefore hanging lemur has wide tuberculous molars and strong chewing muscles giving the characteristic shape to its head. Canines are strongly shortened in order to improve chewing. Stomach of this lemur is complex, five-chambered, with volumed “fermentive” department. Intestines are long, that allows taking as much as possible nutrients from such hardly digestive food. But due to food specialization hanging lemur can feed, not having a competition from the part of other species of animals. On head of animal there is white “mask” covering forehead, area around of eyes and nose bridge – it is visible from apart, and serves for recognition by animals of each other at the distance. Ears of hanging lemur are short, at their edges fringe of rich white wool grows.
Hanging lemurs are solitary animals. Only young lemurs, passing to independent life, spend any time at the same branch as their mothers and follow them. But later they start to lead independent life, and leave parents. Hanging lemurs use calls for communication. They are especially “vociferous” in the morning and right before rain, when they utter lingering call similar to sheep bleating.
Families are not formed at these lemurs, and male right after pairing leaves female. Two times per one year the female brings posterity. The cub is always sole; it is born with open eyes and the first days of life keeps on stomach of mother, clinging for her wool. Approximately at monthly age it studies swarming up trees, coming back to the female for feeding. At four-monthly age young lemur becomes completely independent. If the cub was born during spring rains, female is already pregnant again to the moment of its complete independence. In rather dry winter period female restores forces.
Young animals begin capable to give posterity at the age of about one year. Life expectancy of representatives of this species reaches 14 – 17 years.

Banshi saki (Neomyrikina banshi)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Cebids (Cebidae)

Habitat: Amason region, rainforests and woods in foothills.
On boundary of Holocene and Neocene big tests for durability expected the primates order. The majority of representatives of this order in the daily life is strictly connected with woods. Here they find shelters and food. And when on boundary of Holocene and Neocene the global congelation began, the majority of primates has died out. In New World in Holocene this group was submitted by three families which number and variety were fairly undermined by human activity. Therefore chances of survival at most part of species were minimal. But nevertheless, among these animals some ones were to found has gone through global ecological crisis and has successfully occupied Neocenic woods.
When night goes down on rainforests of Amason region, it is possible to see some representatives of Neocenic monkeys of New World. In moonlight in underbrush small groups of night monkeys banshi saki wander. These animals are rather large for monkeys of New World: length of body of adult individual is up to 50 cm not including long tail. They are colored rather dimly in comparison with monkeys of Holocene epoch. At these primates head is covered with white wool, on neck, cheeks and crown long white hair forming original “pallium” grow. Very big brown eyes with round pupils indicate that it is nocturnal animal. In addition eyes are “penciled” from above by black wool. Only on chin males and females have red beard (at males it is much longer, than at females). Males in addition are decorated with rich white moustaches which are hanging down downwards from corners of mouth. Bodies of these monkeys are covered with dense grey wool, on chest and stomach wool is darker. The tail tip is white, but set off by black ring.
Jaws of these monkeys are short; at males large canines slightly jutting out from closed mouth are advanced. Nostrils as at all wide-nosed monkeys are bordered by wide nasal sept. The forward part of muzzle at the adult banshi saki is covered with thin wool, and at old animals it may be hairless at all. Ears are short, rounded; only their tips jut out from wool.
Hands and feet at banshi saki are hairless, covered with grayish-pink skin. The thumb at these monkeys does not oppose to others (this feature distinguishes monkeys of New World from other monkeys).
Banshi saki is one of the cleverest inhabitants of Amazon woods. At them there are rather large brain and complex behaviour including set of acquired skills, carefully kept in collective experience. Monkeys keep contact with each other uttering various sounds: they howl, chirp, smack and squeal silently. In total in their “dictionary” there are some tens of sounds and their combinations. Besides they watch white tips of tails of the neighbours, flashing in darkness. These monkeys distinguish colors rather badly, but their night sight is very keen.
Groups of these original primates amount up to 20 individuals, and they are headed with dominant pairs: all males submit to the male, the female bosses over all females of group. If the dominant male chooses to itself the female not belonging to number of animals of the supreme rank (at these monkeys pair is forming according personal sympathies), the group status of “Cinderella” automatically grows.
These monkeys wander in forest, finding drop fruits, insects and small vertebrates on the ground. But it is rather dangerous to make it: at night numerous predators wake up and go to hunt. Usually these monkeys are very cautious, and some individuals of medium rank are sentinels of group. Such duty allows them to lift the social status though prevents to search for food normally. Feeling approaching of any predator sentinels notify group about it by sharp squeal. Usually monkeys try to save from predators on trees. If they can not make it for any reasons they play awful performance for which have received the name.
Frightening off the enemy, banshi saki spread manes asides, having turned by faces to the enemy. Their heads turn to terrible masks: stains above their eyes look on the background of white mane as huge eyes, and spreaded beard seems an aperture of huge opened mouth. Moustaches of males besides create impression of canines in “mouth”. This performance is accompanied by loud shrill squeal (in the English folklore banshies are creatures remarkable in heart-breaking voices). To seem larger monkeys rise on hinder legs. Then the white mane is even more brightly appreciable on the background of black stomach. Usually not any predator endures monkey’s “performance” for a long time, preferring to run away. But even if its hunting appears successful and one of monkeys becomes its prey, banshi sakis all the same cry at the predator by all group, chasing it forthwith – it can secure them against the following attack.
Once a year the female gives rise to two cubs. They at once seize wool on her back, and first two weeks of life they travel on mother. Gradually young monkeys start to master the world, to try food of adult animals and to play with neighbours. Half year old animals already move independently, and one-year-old ones live independent life. At the age of two years young animals can have posterity. Life expectancy of banshi saki reaches 15 years.

South-American barbudo (Barbudo papioformis)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Cebids (Cebidae)

Habitat: north of South America, forests and bush in foothills.
Primates had appeared in South America in early Oligocene, and during their natural history were represented by exclusively arboreal forms having greater or lesser degree of specialization to tree-climbing. Some species of South American monkeys had evolved tenacious tail allowing to cling to branches and to hang on it. All these monkeys form a group of New World monkeys, which prominent feature were very widely placed nostrils.
In Holocene epoch many kinds of New World monkeys were destroyed as a result of hunting, catching for zoos and deforestation of Amazon basin. The most specialize arboreal and local endemic species had especially strongly suffered. But some species managed to survive, to go through climatic changes at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene, and to inhabit again forests of South America, which had gradually started to restore in early Neocene. Common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) became the most successful species of South American monkeys. Its success had been determined by a number of factors: they easily adapted to life in broken forests and bush, frequently went down and could easily move on the ground, were numerous and differed in small size. The majority of monkeys of Neocene South America descends from Saimiri. One of these species is large South American barbudo.
Barbudo are medium-sized monkeys (body length is about 40 cm) having rather massive constitution. They live in big groups on the ground in forests of various types in central and northern part of South America. These monkeys meet especially frequently in foothills and among bushes, where they find a lot of food. They are able to climb on trees, but do it reluctantly, because they are more adapted to life on the ground. Young individuals climb on trees more often.
Barbudo has massive trunk with voluminous stomach. Front and hind legs are of approximately equal length, therefore the back of animal is slightly inclined back. Tail of barbudo is very short (about 10 centimeters long); with its help monkey can only express the mood, and it does not take any part in movement on trees.
Head of barbudo is rounded and has short strong jaws. Males have large canines; they frighten contenders and defend against predators with their help. Females have lesser canines, and during the repulse of predator attacks they keep near cubs in rear of the group while all males of the group in common attack predator, uttering loud cries.
The body of barbudo is covered with greyish-yellow wool; back and waist are brown. Very long wool on head is very remarkable feature of appearance of barbudo. On nape and neck the mop of rigid black hair grows as a mane, falling on shoulders and reaching up to the middle of back and closing neck. At males the magnificent beard covering throat and partly breast grows (hence the name, literally meaning “bearded”). Hair of the top part of head are short and light, and consequently monkey looks as though grown bald though actually only the small part of skin on head is lack of wool. When monkeys move through grass and bush, long hair of mane protect body against pricks and scratches. Mane and beard serve for demonstration in male duels – despite of frightening appearance, males of barbudo do not enter fight with each other, and confine themselves only to demonstration of menace and loud cry. In heat of the conflict male can seize by paws a trunk of small tree or bush and start shaking them, but never rushes to another male.
The face of barbudo is covered with short white wool. Both males and females have rich eyebrowes – it is a protection against insects and dust, important at life on the ground. On the face of barbudo there is rather small site of hairless skin – it is a nose and the bottom part of nose bridge, area between nose and mouth, and area around of mouth. This skin is brightly coloured, and the shade of colouring varies depending on physical and emotional condition of animal. At males the naked skin on muzzle is colored crimson-red color, at females it is pink. At young animals skin on muzzle is bright pink. At males there is also a site of naked skin of red color on breast. During menacing demonstration males can rear on hind legs, showing brightly painted skin of breast to each other. Thus they raise head, in order not to close breast by beard, and it gives to their conflict comic similarity to dispute of old men. In general, by behaviour barbudos resemble African baboons of Holocene epoch, but differ from them in considerably weaker aggression.
Barbudo has large eyes and good full color stereoscopic sight got from ancestors. With the help of keen sight animals notice berries and insects making a significant part of their diet. On hands at these monkeys thick strong nails grow, due to which animals can rummage in ground in searches of larvae and roots. But at them the thumb can not oppose to fingers – it is a common feature of New World monkeys.
Monkeys spend a lot of time in bush and underbrush, therefore sound communication occupies the significant place in their life. The voice of these monkeys is rich in various sounds; it includes grumble and grunt, cries of various tonalities and melodious twittering. Very much advanced hearing helps to warn beforehand about approach of predators. Having found out a predator, monkeys give the alarm, squalling shrilly. Their voices serve as the warning for forest inhabitants, like in Holocene voices of deer, langurs and peacocks notified jungle on presence of tiger.
In group of barbudo there are some leading males, which copulate with all females of the group by turns, therefore it is rather inconveniently to define, from what male cubs are born. Young males had not got to the circle of group “elite” have no opportunity to couple to females: females do not admit to themselves males of low rank. It is possible to raise the rank in group by only way: to protect herd against predators and strangers from other groups, and to concern loyally to females, occasionally allowing them to steal the found food. Such behaviour reduces the amount of disputed situations in group.
Once a year the female gives rise to one cub. It strongly differs in colouring from adult individuals: it has golden wool, and nape and lateral parts of head are grey. The cub is looked after by the female, but she allows dominant males to clean wool of the cub and to treat him with found forage when it grows up.
At the age of one year the cub becomes independent, and the difficult period of its life begins – it becomes “adolescent” to whom children’s pranks are not allowed. “Adolescents” keep by unite group, and frequently unite with coevals from other groups, or pass to the next groups one by one, especially if those groups are small. Three-year old male reaches blossoming of physical force, and young female at this age already gives rise to the first cub. Life expectancy of barbudo reaches 15 – 17 years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Momus, the forum member.

Mapinguari (Mapinguari giganteus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Sakis (Pitheciidae)

Habitat: mountain forests of South America, bush thickets.
In human epoch South American monkeys represented completely or mainly arboreal forms. Their sizes varied from very small up to medium. The species comparable in size to African gorilla lack among primates of New World.
At the end of human epoch the situation had changed: forests were cut down and only small islets remained of solid forested areas lasting continuously tens and hundreds of kilometers. In ice age the rests of humid tropical forests had receded to banks of large rivers. As a result of these changes the part of forest inhabitants had died out (it had affected large species in especially great degree), and another part had been compelled to adapt to other habit of life – life in open spaces, bush thickets and mountain forests.
Bush thickets and forests with rich underbrush are inhabited by one descendant of former forest inhabitants – huge species of ground New World monkeys, mapinguari. It is a huge descendant of white-faced saki (Pithecia leucocephala) - one species of South American monkeys of Holocene epoch. Its ancestors survived in ice age in relic forest islets and this way got an opportunity for the further evolution. In due course some descendants of this species had increased in size and had settled in ground habitats along the northern border of South American pampas and in Andes foothills. This primate inhabits tropical area of South America.
This species of primates considerably exceeds in sizes gorilla of human epoch. Length of this animal including tail is about 3 m, height at a shoulder of adult individual is up to 155 cm, weight of adult male is 300 kg, female – about 200 kg. As against an ancestor having dark colouring of wool, mapinguari has shaggy bright red fur. On back of adult individual wool is darker, on buttocks the naked sciatic callouses of blue color bordered by strip of black wool develop. The face of animal is hairless, skin is pigmented in great degree – usually it is brown though there are grey-faced individuals. Face is bordered from below by “beard” of white wool.
Tail is short – it has completely lost balance function, because only young mapinguaris can climb on trees. Adult individuals spend the whole life only on the ground. The top side of tail is covered with dark wool; bottom side is white. Raising tail, this monkey shows warning signals to congeners.
Fingers have the limited flexibility: thumb is not opposable, and the animal only picks up and tightens branches, using hands as hooks. Toes are short and joined together in common skin cover almost by halves. Usually mapinguari moves on four limbs, but during the feeding it rises on legs. This species eats leaves and young shoots of trees, and also nuts and other firm fruits. Teeth of this species are large and wide, adapted to chewing. Canines also are short, and due to this feature lower jaw can move in sides.
Mapinguaris live solitarily or in small groups. Single individuals usually are old animal, doing not wish to leave from places, rich in food. Adult individuals live in family groups including male and one or two females with cubs. Animals from different groups are not aggressive relatively to each other and frequently feed in common. Borders of territory of each family group are very indistinct.
Usually mapinguari is silent; animals communicate with each other with the help of rumbling and hooting. Threatening the opponent, this monkey utters loud throat growl, and call of alarm is loud long squeal. Using such cry mapinguaris warn of their detection of large predators – raptor cats or jagueira.
In breeding of this species the certain cyclicity is expressed. Courtship period takes place in the beginning of dry season. At this time males arrange ritual combats for females – they growl, push each other and strike impacts by edge of palm on each other’s shoulders. Such duels do not result in fatal outcome, but allow establishing of domination relations in struggle for the female. If the structure of family group is rather constant, male shows to females the favour, allowing them stealing his food, and shows force, snatching with noise and cries to other animals. Thus he only tries to frighten them, but does not attack really.
Pregnancy lasts till about 9 months, one cub is usually born. Twins represent a rarity – one case for some tens of deliveries. Within five months cub eats milk, but already at the second month of life it starts to try food of adult individuals. Till four years young individuals live with mother, but then they are expelled by her from group. Soon after that the female is ready to pairing again. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 6 years. Life expectancy does not exceed 50 years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Nick, the forum member.

Kong (Titanosimia kong)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Para-apes (Parapongidae)

Habitat: Jakarta Coast, South-East Asia, tropical forests.

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

In late Cenozoic apes were the largest primates. Growth of largest of them, Pleistocene Gigantopithecus, was estimated at 3 meters. At Madagascar, however, lemurs of genus Megaladapis approximately equal to gorilla in size lived. In human epoch large species of primates had suffered serious damage from economic activity of people and direct chasing. Giant lemurs, undoubtedly, had died out in early historical epoch because of hunting for them. Gorillas and other apes became rarity because of hunting and destruction of habitats. Their populations kept to the end of human epoch in some reserves, appeared too small in order to restore these species. No one species of apes had lived up to Neocene. But in Southern Asia evolution prepared the replacement to extinct large primates. The descendant of one macaque (Macaca) species had passed to ground habit of life and began the settling in all suitable habitats in tropical zone of Southern and South-Eastern Asia. In tropical forests of South-Eastern Asia and at the Jacarta Coast peninsula kong, the largest of ever living primates, had evolved. Weight of adult male of this species exceeds 700 kg, and his growth reaches 4 meters. The female of this species is smaller – her weight is about 450 kg at growth up to 3 meters.
Kong is an ecological analogue of Pleistocene ground sloths of South America and chalicotheres of Old World. It is too massive to climb on trees, and is exclusively ground species. Only young individuals are able to climb on trees. By constitution kong is similar to gorilla – this primate has very long arms, and back is inclined. Tail is not present at this species.
Living in twilight of underbrush, these primates are compelled to use very appreciable color spots to distinguish relatives. Sciatic callouses of kong are colored bright red and bordered by contrast ring of white wool. Sexual dimorphism is expressed not only in size, but also in colouring – male has black wool with brownish shade, and female is reddish-brown. Additionally male has brightly colored face – white with bluish spots on cheeks. Face skin of females is grey. The male’s neck is decorated with magnificent white mane contrasting with the general colouring of body. At females wool on neck is only slightly lengthened and darker, than wool on the body.
Jaws of kong are short and wide. Canines at females are very short and consequently don’t prevent to lateral movements of jaws at chewing. At males canines are larger and more appreciable – they are used in courtship displays and during an establishment of domination relations. The diet of kong is diverse and includes mainly vegetable food. These primates easily pull out plants from the ground and chew their tubers and rhizomes by strong molars. The significant part of their diet is made of foliage of young trees. In order to reach it, these para-apes rise on rear legs and bend trunk and branches of trees to themselves. Kong likes to feed in shallow water of tropical rivers with soft aquatic vegetation.
The food of animal origin in diet of kong is presented mainly by carrion and the rests of prey of large predators. Kong differs in massive constitution and sluggishness, and therefore it is very bad hunter. Its prey includes very large invertebrates and sluggish reptiles – tortoise or snake insufficiently quick after nourishing dinner may easily get for dinner to this primate. This species can easily drive away predators from their prey, using huge force and superiority in strength.
Kong lives the small groups numbering no more than ten individuals. In group there is a well defined leader – it is large adult male. Also there are subdominants in group – one of senior sons of group leader, or male came from the side and showing loyalty to the leader and supporting him. As a rule, dominant male descends from other family, rather than females of group.
Kong breeds very slowly. Females turn able to give birth to cub at the age of about five or six years. Pregnancy lasts till about one year, and till next three years the cub depends on mother in many respects. The wool of newborn kong is bright rusty and darkens in course of time. It develops slowly enough, and can independently move on four paws only at the age of five months. The cub is fed with milk till about one year, and only since the tenth month of life starts to use vegetative forage for food. During the life the female of kong can bring up no more than five or six cubs. At this species of primates twins are frequently born – one case to approximately 10 – 12 births. Obviously, this is an adaptation permitting to increase rate of reproduction at these animals. These primates have well advanced parental instinct, and frequently the female, too old to give birth to its own cubs, helps young females to look after cubs, and even transports the cub to the back. Adult kong does not have enemies, and this primate has an opportunity to live up to 50 – 60 years.

Tibetan yeti (Yeti tibetianus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Para-apes (Parapongidae)

Habitat: Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, mountain forests.
The most progressive primates, monkeys, in Neocene express the variety comparable to their variety in human epoch. Large apes had not survived up to Neocene, but their place in this epoch is occupied by large species descending from macaques (Macaca) of Holocene epoch, which represent the special parapongid family. Area of this family is limited to mainly Southern and South-Eastern Asia. Parapongids include kong (Titanosimia kong) – the largest Neocene species of primates, the inhabitant of tropical forests.
Area of primates is limited mainly to areas with sufficient duration of day. In human epoch a number of monkey species lived in mountains where these animals endured normally temperatures below zero. In Neocene one species of primates, Tibetan yeti, also settled in mountain areas of Central Asia. This monkey is named so because of significant similarity to mysterious “yeti” in appearance and behaviour.
Because it is cold enough in mountains of Central Asia, Tibetan yeti is large creature: weight of adult male makes about 70 kg, female is smaller – up to 50 kg. Body of this primate is covered with rich wool due to what it is not afraid of severe mountain winds. For additional insulation at Tibetan yeti all projecting parts of body – ears, face and limbs – are rather short. In comparison with its close relatives from tropical forests Tibetan yeti looks rather thickset creature. Primates from warm habitats often have sites of hairless skin on face, breast and in genital area. This skin is frequently bright colored and serves for demonstration during the communication and establishment of domination relations. In cold mountain climate at intensive solar radiation Tibetan yeti has a minimum of naked skin on face and body – the whole muzzle of this monkey is covered with short, but rich wool; wool grows even on ears from external side. The back side of feet and hands, and also fingers and toes from above are also covered with wool. Perhaps, only lips and eyelids are not protected by wool.
For protection against overcooling at this primate the extensive sciatic callouses formed of thick layer of cornificated skin are advanced. Due to such adaptation animal can sit on cold stones without harm for an organism. Soles are also covered with cornificated skin.
In mountains at high altitudes trees which could sustain weight of this monkey do not grow. Tibetan yeti has substantially lost skills of tree-climbing, and the structure of its feet had undergone significant changes. On foot of this monkey the big toe is short, and other toes are connected in the basis by soft tissues and had considerably lost mobility. Actually, only distal halves of toes, which are short in themselves, remain free. Tail of Tibetan yeti has not disappeared completely, but is considerably reduced. It keeps mobility, but is very short and covered with rich wool. Such tail can not be the balance weight at movement any more, but is quite functional as means of expression of emotions.
Male and female at this primate appreciably differ in colouring. The male’s wool has chestnut color with reddish shade, darker on back. At females wool is almost black. Male also has wide white “eyebrows”, white moustaches and short beard. Females have only small sites is white wool above eyes.
In mountains the nature does not give a rich choice of food, on contrary to tropical forest. Tibetan yeti is practically omnivorous: in summer its diet includes leaves and berries, and also insects and other invertebrates. In winter the nature of mountains is scanter, and from vegetative food in yeti’s diet buds and needles remain. But at any time of year small vertebrates and carrion make the desired additive to diet. Tibetan yeti frequently keeps eyes on birds – scavengers and predators like tanatos – and eats the rests of their prey.
In order to find enough amount of food it is necessary to be able to clamber on stones. In summer yeti moves on four limbs more often, like other monkeys. Winter snow and cold force it to move on hind legs, preserving hands from cold. During a bad weather yetis crowd together, closing cubs by bodies (such behaviour resembles the formation of “turtle” at penguins in human epoch), but search shelter in caves or among stones more often.
This primate survives in severe mountain conditions due to social way of life in many respects. It lives in small groups (up to 10 – 15 individuals), in which the strict patriarchy-based hierarchy reigns. In extreme conditions for preservation of group the survival rate of young growth is important. In connection to it at young animals well expressed juvenile colouring – reddish fur with dark face – develops and is kept till first two years of life (even after they become independent). Such colouring gives the cub the right of best piece of food and superfluous care from the side of adults. As it grows, colouring of young individual changes to adult one, and at other individuals in group other favourites appear. Young “adolescents” keep in group separately, and sometimes leave parental group together, keeping friendship for long years. Such individuals challenge authority of male from other group more successfully or simply entice females from his group to their own one.
Tibetan yetis grow mature for very long time – not less than seven years pass before a sexual maturity. First one and a half years young animal stays with mother, being trained at her to receptions of food search and skills of social behaviour. Life expectancy at this monkey is not less than 40 years. For this time the female has time to bring into the world and rear no more than ten cubs.

Almas (Yeti almas)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Para-apes (Parapongidae)

Habitat: western Himalayas slopes, mountains of Central Asia, mountain forests and bush thickets.
Almas is a close relative of Tibetan yeti, the monkey living in high-mountainous areas of Tibet and Himalayas. It belongs to parapongid family including mainly large Old World monkeys descending from macaques, but convergent similar to pongids and hominids extinct to Neocene. Almas differs considerably in ecology from yeti: it is more thermophilic and in mountains does not rise up to snow border and lives not above zones of deciduous forests and bushes. Also it is much smaller than yeti: adult almases weigh no more 50 kg (males) and 30 kg (females). As well as yeti, almas is covered with rich wool, but it has rusty brown color, lighter, than at its eastern relative; there are also grey color forms (up to 40 % of a population). The sexual dimorphism in colouring is expressed in presence of white spot on breast at males and darker general colouring of wool. At females head is lighter, rather than at males, and newborn cubs are covered with silver-gray wool. At grey color morph cubs are almost white. Juvenile colouring helps to moderate aggression of adult individuals during their games with cubs.
This monkey species moves mainly on four paws, but has ability to keep in biped pose for a long time, getting food with the help of hands. Feet are covered with thick corneous callouses from the bottom side due to which animal can move on stones. Big toe has kept mobility and helps animal to grip stones and tree branches. Other four toes have grown together in the basis and are less mobile, than at forest monkeys from tropics. Tail is short, but mobile.
Almas lives in family groups numbering 8 – 12 individuals: dominant male, 1 – 2 subdominant ones, sexually mature females and their cubs. These primates eat various kinds of food, but, as against yeti, almases differ in omnivorousity and willingly eat food of animal origin. They are capable to kill and to eat even rather large animal, do not disdain carrion, drive away predators from prey, and occasionally there are cases of cannibalism. Almases have kept more skills of tree-climbing, than yeti did, and can escape on tree in case of predator attack. The young growth swarms up trees especially good. Almases protected themselves against small enemies on manners of macaques and baboons: males show aggression and intention to fight, opening mouth and showing large canines while females and young growth escape far away.
The sexual maturity of almas comes at the age of 5 – 6 years. Once a year the female gives birth to 1 – 2 cubs. Newborn ones are helpless and only can grip for wool of mother. Therefore childless females of group frequently incur a significant part of care of cubs of other females. Life expectancy of almas is about 30 – 35 years.

This species of mammals is discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Enkidou (Enkidou sylvaticus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Guenons (Cercopithecidae)
Habitat: Southern Asia, plain and foothill woods.
Disappearance or significant reduction of areas of tropical rainforests during the ice age had caused mass extinction of species connected to these biotopes. Among irrevocably missed animals there were large primates – apes. Gibbons, chimpansees, gorilla and orangutan have died out, not having left descendants. But small species of monkeys were in incomparably best position. Bieng ecologically plastic they have developed life in light forests of glacial epoch, and when woods again have covered tropical zone of Earth, wood inhabitants have appeared among them. Among new wood monkeys the special family of “false apes” including very large species descended from macacas and convergently similar to gorillas of Holocene epoch is especially remarkable. In some areas other large primates, descendants of langoors (Presbytis) widely settled in Asia, compete with them.
The enkidou named after beast-like hero of Sumer epos is huge primate similar to gorilla having short tail. It is the primate of massive constitution moving by the ground mainly on four paws, but sometimes rising on legs. In such position this monkey can make some steps, holding something in hands. Growth of the rising monkey reaches 3 meters. The body of animal is covered with shaggy black wool; face skin is naked, colored red. Brightly colored face is a mark of recognition by representatives of this species of neighbours. However the area of buttocks serves as not less important recognition symbol at these species, as well as at many species of monkeys. On buttocks of enkidou there are large sciatic callouses covered with naked lilac-blue skin at males and bluish-grey skin at females. These formations have also alarm function, by their appearance it is possible to determine approximately the status of individual in group, its physiological condition and readiness for pairing at female. Thus, sciatic callouses of this animal serve as its original “passport”.
Wool of cubs is colored differently, than at adults: they are light grey, almost white, with pink face. Sciatic callouses at them are covered with wool. Such distinctions in colouring have the important value: they serve as the deterrent for aggressive adult individuals, showing the “special status” of cub in group. For this reason all pranks and theft of meal at adult monkeys are forgiven to cubs, and the adult member of clan may have strong punishment for it.
At males of enkidou in mouth long canines used for demonstration at an establishment of hierarchy jut out. During fights between adults they are not applied, but at defense against predator or at rescue of the cub got to its claws adult males inflict terrible wounds by canines. At females canines are much shorter. Molars of enkidou are wide and knobby – the significant part of diet of this species include with coarse sappy vegetative food.
Because of massive constitution enkidous spend the most part of life on the ground though they can swarm up trees. Especially frequently cubs do it, finding in branches fruits inaccessible to massive adult individuals. This species of monkeys is omnivorous, equally willingly eating both vegetative food and meat (if it will be possible to find it). Enkidous willingly eat tubers and sweetish roots of ferns, soft leaves of bushes, fruits of different trees. The food of animal origin includes insects (especially they like juicy and fat larvae of beetles), bird eggs and nestlings, frogs and small mammals. Using the might and large number enkidous can take away catch of different predatory animals, or pick up rests of meals after them. During the meat sharing the severe hierarchy is observed: the dominant male with huge canines tries this dish first, choosing to itself best pieces. He personally endows with meat of females with which he is coupled, after them males with whom supports friendly relations more often, and further all cubs irrespective of whose are they. After that he leaves a carcass for individuals of the lowest rank and does not care of its sharing any more. Frequently lowest individuals in hierarchy get only uneatable pieces of skin and cartilages, and sometimes they get only smell of meat. If someone from animals of the lowest rank tries to steal a piece of meat out of turn, the true fight accompanied with loud roar and menacing grimaces can be fastened. At this time any monkey does not try to steal meat from fear to get “in the heat of the moment” to the prepotent male. It happens that in an impulse of anger the male inflicts to members of clan traumas and mutilations by impacts of powerful hands.
The sharing of vegetative food never happen such noisy and strict because usually it is enough of it for all ones. However dominant males watch closely members of clan being always ready to take away from them something tasty, that they have to found and had not time to hide and to have eaten. At the same time the leader strictly watches that anybody, especially youngsters, did not take away meal from cubs. Caring about cubs, the dominant male strengthens his social status in clan - a lot of females will want to be coupled to him and will support him if there will be any threat of leadership change in clan.
But the dominant male should fulfil such privileges to the full: at an attack of predators or at conflict with the next clan he acts in the forefront among defenders, and at times outcome of the conflict depends on his behaviour.
Time of pairing at enkidou is stretched for half-year falling to rainseason. At the female ready to pairing sciatic callouses increase and become bright blue. Usually each male occupying high enough position in clan has one female to which he couples regularly and supports friendly relations during all life. The female from such steady pair even can abandon clan together with the male when the readiness for pairing comes, spending some days at some distance from the basic group of clan.
Pregnancy at these species of monkeys lasts about half-year. The newborn cub is covered with wool, at it eyes are opened, and it practically at once can move head and grip for wool of mother. First time mother constantly carries the cub at breast. Later it gets over to her back. At bi-monthly age cub climbs down from mother and starts to play with coevals, at three-monthly age it starts to try food of adult animals. Half year old cub ceases to suck milk and starts to spend more time on the ground, moving together with adults. At one-year-old age the wool of the cub starts to darken: it starts to mature and turns to the “teenager”. At this time it usually receives the first punishment from adult animals that marks the ending of the carefree childhood. But connection between young animal and its mother is kept for long years, even when the female has other cub. At the age of three years the young female is ready to give rise to first cub.
Life expectancy at enkidou is 40 - 50 years. For this time up to 6 - 7 cubs can be born at the female.

Kappa (Potamopithecia kappa)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Guenons (Cercopithecidae)

Habitat: rivers, lakes and swamps of Japan Islands, mainly in eastern part of archipelago.
Primates almost never passed to completely aquatic way of life. Anyway, among them there were no animals as closely connected to aquatic environment, as otters and pinnipeds among carnivores or hippopotamuses and sirenians among ungulates. Separate species of primates of Holocene epoch were connected to aquatic environment only in part: these ones were Allen’s swamp monkeys (Allenopithecus) from Africa and long-nosed monkeys (Nasalis) from Southeast Asia. Among monkeys of New World there were at all no species adapted to existence in water or near water. One more primate right in human epoch had shown obvious propensity to life in water. This event took place in Japan Islands, where some populations of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) passed to life in water in part. Island isolation promoted to evolution of their descendant into very special creature – to the species of Neocene primates most adapted to life in water.
In Japanese legends the fantastic water creature, kappa, is mentioned. According to legendary descriptions, kappa is similar partly to human being and frog simultaneously, and differs in rather blood-thirsting inclination. In Neocene in the native land of legendary kappa the monkey, became literally a material embodiment of this creature, certainly, with the exception of some magic properties and predatory bents, had evolved. Therefore aquatic primate from Japan Islands is also named kappa.
Habitat of Japanese kappa includes banks of water bodies, rivers and lakes, thickets of coastal vegetation. Kappa avoids life in rapid and cool mountain rivers, preferring warm and rather slowly current water bodies, which banks are overgrown with forest and bush. Especially numerous populations of kappa inhabit eastern side of Japan Islands directed to ocean. Obviously, there it was a centre of kappa speciation.
Appearance of kappa is very remarkable – animal combines attributes of tree-climbing and aquatic animal. When kappa swims, rear limbs are principal organs of movement. Feet of this primate are adapted to swimming: they are rather long and wide, and between toes rudimentary palamas grow. Big toe is considerably reduced. With the help of such feet kappa swims in water quickly, resembling a huge frog at this moment, and also walks on fenny ground. Unique feature of this monkey is ability to walk on rear legs for more or less long time. It amplifies the similarity of Japanese kappa to its legendary prototype even more. Kappa differs from human beings in hunched bearing – backbone of this primate is slightly curved, and does not form S-shaped shock-absorbing bends. Moreover, feet of kappa are not vaulted as human feet are, and do not spring at walking. But they are adapted very much for walking on soft ground.
On temples, head sides and nape of kappa long dark hair grow. This is very useful adaptation – the cub keeps for them, sitting on back of the female. But on top of monkey’s head hair are short. On body wool is also short and thin, yellowish-brown in color. Skin on kappa’s face is naked and rather brightly colored: at males face is dark red, and pink at females. Male differs from female also in wool colouring: at his breast dark wool grows, whereas at female wool on breast is bright yellow. Moreover male has much longer and richier “whiskers” growing down to the middle of breast. Male is 20 – 25 % heavier than female and differs in larger jaws with long canines.
Kappa lacks of tail – it had disappeared at far ancestors of this species. But at animals of both genders bright sciatic callouses are advanced. At males they are light pink, not too visible on the background of wool. At females sciatic callouses are bright red, shaded in addition with black wool on buttocks. This deliberately bright colouring is connected to social behaviour of primates in which the condition and demonstration of sciatic callouses and area surrounding them has great importance. This is a powerful gesture of suppression of aggression, which is important for this species – kappa males are rather aggressive, and among them the strict hierarchy is supported.
Arms of kappa are about the same length, as legs are. Kappa’s hands have long sensitive fingers – they are equally well adapted to grasping of tree branches when animal climbs and to searching for small invertebrates in muddy water – kappa frequently searches for food under water to the touch. When kappa swims, it presses hands to breast.
Kappa has also other adaptations to aquatic habit of life: when animal dives, its nostrils close. At diving kappa can hold the breath for one minute and more. Under water kappa searches for food – roots and tubers of aquatic plants, snails, crustaceans and frogs. Gathering trees fruits drop in water, kappa keeps in water in upright pose, standing on rear legs. In this case wide feet prevent sticking in oozy bottom. Diving skill belongs to the number of acquired attributes; therefore kappa with very young cub appears very vulnerable. The only way of rescue for such female is its skill of tree climbing – kappa had not lost this ability though does it worse than other monkeys because of feet specialization. But the female has got in a trouble, can expect to the aid of relatives: having gathered in group, kappas can counterattack a predator. Males may be especially dangerous to aggressor – attacking it, they put deep wounds by canines.
Kappa female gives birth to one cub once a year; the expressed seasonal prevalence in breeding of these monkeys is absent. Cub differs in colouring from adult individuals: it has light grey wool and pink skin on face. As it grows, the wool of young individual changes colouring: first it becomes plain yellowish, and then starts turning darken.
Kappas spend a lot of time in games with each other and both cubs, and adult individuals equally like to play. Animals conceive games not only on trees, but also in water. Jumps in water represent the especially favourite game at young kappas. Monkeys jump in water from height, having swinged on flexible tree branches. Each group of kappas has favourite “game tree” on which animals swing with pleasure when the group of animals comes back to this place.
Approximately at the age of eight months at young kappa long hair on head start to grow. Individual development is rather long – the young animal keeps connection with parents even after birth of the next cub. Young kappa becomes completely independent approximately at two-year-old age. At this time young females study to care of posterity, helping mother to look after their own younger brothers and sisters. Females become capable to breeding at the age of three years, males – for half-year later.
Like all primates, kappas are social animals. They live in groups including several breeding couples and their posterity. As a rule, adult animals are joined by consanguinty, but the significant part of group can be submitted by individuals from other populations. Young kappas live for a long time in parental group – females more often remain in it till whole their life, but males in most cases pass to other groups. If male stays in parental group, his social status will be low while his father is alive.
Kappa lives in groups, differs in ability to bipedal moving, and its hands allow manipulating with small subjects. But it does not mean an opportunity of intelligence development for them at all. These monkeys do not make tools, and their brain is rather small. In addition to it this species is closely connected to specific habitats – humid marshy forests. Populations of kappa contact among themselves rather poorly, and in each population differences in appearance of animals, and even in size, from other populations quickly accumulate.
Kappas evolved at the islands, in area isolated from continent. Ways to distribution for them are cut off by wide sea passages. Kappa is able to swim, but salt sea water makes passages completely insuperable obstacle for this primate. Therefore kappa appears only very specialized kind of monkeys; it does not have prospects for development of intelligence, and has no one opportunity to settle beyond Japan Islands.

Healer monkey (Micropresbytis medicus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Guenons (Cercopithecidae)

Habitat: Southern Asia, tropical forests and bushes.
In Neocene the primates order is presented by a plenty of species of monkeys and prosimians. At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene hunting, destruction of habitats and climate changes had resulted in reduction of number and specific variety of primates. Warmer climate of Neocene has resulted in expansion of territories suitable for life of primates, and their variety began to grow again. Among them very original and specialized species had evolved.
Mountain ridges separated Eurasia into two sharply differing worlds: cold north with obviously expressed change of seasons, and humid tropical south. To the south of mountain zone, in tropics of India and Indochina, fauna is very rich. Forests and bushes are populated with various large ungulated on which the set of species of parasitic invertebrates lives. Usually the role of their cleaners is carried out by birds, but in tropics of Asia small species of monkeys evolved, which also specializes in gathering of parasites from wool of these animals. Such behaviour is derivate of grooming, usual behavioural feature of monkeys. Birds clear herbivores of parasites on open areas, and monkeys do the same in forests. Due to such division they do not compete to each other.
Healer monkey living in tropical forests and woodlands is a small species of primates. It is larger than squirrel guenons living in Africa: weight of adult male is about 700 grammes, female is up to 500 grammes. At this species of monkeys there is very bright and appreciable colouring. The basic background is bright red, stomach and forepaws are white. Skin on face, palms and feet is dark and hairless. In addition to size males differ from females only in presence of small “beard” and longer canines. At females canines are only a little longer than other teeth.
These primates live in small family groups numbering from one up to three males, up to five females and their cubs. In group the strict hierarchy is supported. Animals communicate with each other by means of various sounds; in “language” of healer monkey there is about 20 various signals.
Usually monkeys keep on trees and among bushes, but spend a lot of time on the ground. Usually they move in forest, keeping nearby from large herbivorous mammals. It is connected to features of behaviour of this primate species. Healer monkey is omnivorous and willingly eats fruits of various trees. When monkeys are fed, they drop a part of fruits on the ground, and it additionally involves ground animals. But the significant part of a diet of healer monkey is made with various insects and other invertebrates gathering on bodies of herbivorous mammals. Monkeys get on backs of animals and clear their wool of parasites, in exchange receiving the additional protection against predators. Due to contrast colouring they are easily found out by herbivorous mammals which behave quietly at the presence of monkeys. Animals get one more advantage from the neighbourhood with monkeys: these primates have good sight and beforehand warn animals cleared by them of approach of predator by loud cries.
At the watering place these monkeys prefer to keep near large mammals which presence frightens off snakes frequently attacking animals of this species. Besides snakes, the main enemies of these primates are large birds of prey and small mammalian predators.
These primates breed quickly enough - approximately in half of cases at the female twins are born. Cubs are looked after by all females of group due to what the survival rate of posterity is very high. The young monkey becomes capable to breeding at the age of three years.

The idea about existence of this species of mammals was proposed by Momus, the forum member.

Jumping squirrel guenon (Sciuropithecus semivolans)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Guenons (Cercopithecidae)

Habitat: tropical woods of the Central Africa, highest trees.
At the end of Holocene tropical rainforests of equatorial zone of Earth have had not best time: aridization and the cold of planet climate during the ice age has sharply reduced their areas, having caused disintegration of earler uniform zone of woods to the set of small islands. Representatives of fauna of these natural communities have died out or their number was sharply reduced. But some species used original strategy of survival which had helped to stay number of species at former level: they have simply decreased the size and at the reduced territory of woods the big population which survival is more stable could live. Elephants and rhinoceroses from islands of Mediterranean Sea, mammoths of Wrangel Island and Columbian elephants of islands near coast North America had used this strategy in Pleistocene. And in forests of Africa guenons (Cercopithecus) have acted so. One of species of these motley monkeys had turned to real dwarf in its genus that has permitted to it to survive. And this tactics had appeared so successful, that later this species had evolved into some affiliated species occupying different ecological niches. So the genus of squirrel guenons (Sciuropithecus) which representatives practically do not exceed the common squirrel by size had appeared on Earth. After increase of the forest area species of this genus were settled widely, but the inhabiting at different “islands” of forest had resulted in formation of different species distinguished from each other by behaviour and habit of life.
Squirrel guenons are very “large-headed” in comparison with other species of monkeys – it is common feature of all small primates including South-American marmosets (Callitrix) to which squirrel guenons are similar by ecology. Besides these tiny primates differ from each other by numerous “ornaments” of hair, color strips and spots serving for specific recognition.
Jumping squirrel guenon is the typical representative of genus. It lives on highest trees of tropical wood and has the original adaptation for such life. This monkey is the excellent hopper; at it has big hinder legs with tenacious long toes. It easily surmounts distance of ten meters and more by jump. For small creature it is a simple task: the monkey keeps in air due to long hair growing on sides and shoulders forming original “parachute”. The magnificent hairy brush on the tip of long tail helps to drive in flight. By it the jumping squirrel guenon is convergently similar to monkeys of guereza genus (Colobus). Pushing off from branch by legs, monkey stretches hands in sides and freely soars in air, supported by ascending air streams. Having reached up to the planned branch, it bends body, extends legs forward, deflects head back, and seizes bark by toes. Due to abilities to “fly” it practically has no competitors among neighbours, having mastered life on highest trees of tropical forest.
The jumping squirrel guenon is colored contrastly: almost all body is covered with white wool, hairs of “parachute” are white too, and on back there is black longitudinal strip expanded on shoulders. At males faces are covered with bluish naked skin and have red “sidewhiskers” and beard, at females skin on the face is pink and hair “ornaments” are not present. Besides at males of this species long canines are advanced. Cubs sharply differ in colouring from adults: they are covered with brown wool brightening later.
These monkeys keep in crones of the highest trees (at height over 30 meters) in flights of 20 – 30 individuals. In group the main pair is precisely appreciable, and other pairs implicitly submit to them. In rear guard of the group there are young not sexual matured individuals and bachelors. They are afraid of leader, and at the same time regularly challenge his right on leadership.
At these animals the “language” of sound signals is advanced including up to 30 various “words” like squeal, hoot, twitterling and cries.
Jumping squirrel guenons eat soft fruits, seeds with thin covers, both various insects and spiders finding them in tree crones. They do not compete to wood rodents specialized in feeding by firm forages. Besides squirrel guenons are rather aggressive to them, and rodents, as a rule, avoid places where these primates keep.
The female gives rise to one cub once of times 5 – 6 months. First time it grips for wool on her breast, later gets over on mother’s back. While at the cub “child's” colouring is kept, all individuals in flight irrespective of rank willingly play with it. But later, approximately at four-monthly age, colouring starts to brighten: the cub matures. It finally leaves mother at the age of seven - eight months though from time to time it communicates with her during all life. The grown up young growth keeps aloof of the leader seeing threat to the leadership in bachelors. To prove the right of domination the male resorts to menacing demonstrations: he opens a mouth wide, showing sharp canines, and squeals shrilly. Thus he shows the force, jumping in branches or shaking branch on which it is sitting. Usually such reminders on leadership are bloodless and are limited only to demonstrations but if the opponent is audacious and is not going to submit, demonstration of forces passes in fight, being accompanied by bites and peces of pulled out wool. When the hierarchy is indisputable, the group can food peacefully, except for moments when the individual lowest by rank does not succeed to hide a lucky find from vigilant look of the clan leader. Social connections in clan become stronger with the help of grooming. Squirrel guenons as however all monkeys express this way the loyalty or favour to the neighbour.
As well as all small animals squirrel guenons live not so long though due to the brain size they can be considered as long-livers in comparison, for example, with rodents: they live up to 10 – 13 years.
Representatives of closely related species living in forests of Equatorial Africa are:
Marsh squirrel guenon (Sciuropithecus paludiphylus). This primate belongs to the same genus as previous one. It differs from jumping squirrel guenon in more massive constitution, shorter extremities, absence of hair fringe on sides and also in other wool coloring. Colouring of this species is much darker: head of black color, grey back and white stomach. Along sides longitudinal rusty-brown strips spread, on hands there are “gloves” of red wool. Around of eyes this monkey has rounded sites of naked white colored skin. It is the frightening colouring which is making an impression of huge unblinking “eyes” of any large animal. Cubs have no such false “eyes”, and they do not have sites of red wool on the body. Tail at monkeys of this species is covered with black wool with white hairy brush on the tip.
This species of monkeys is larger rather than jumping squirrel guenon: adult monkey is young cat-sizeed and male is larger than female. Living in marshy woods marsh squirrel guenon frequently searches for food near to water: it is able to catch crabs and tadpoles in wood pools. Also these monkeys are willingly fed with tubers and greenery of marsh plants. The significant part of diet of this species includes tree fruits have fallen on the ground, therefore monkeys of this species frequently watch groups of monkeys of other species, gathering fruits thrown by them.
Decorated squirrel guenon (Sciuropithecus ornatus). This representative of the genus differs in very bright colouring: bright-red body, white crest on head at animals of both sexes, long tail at the male is white, at the female black. The back side of palms and feet is colored coffee-brown. Face skin is naked and yellow. Males have small black “barb”. Cubs are colored uniform brown color; only face skin is yellow, as at adult monkeys.
Decorated squirrel guenon lives on the trees making forest canopy and practically does not go down to ground. This species even searches for water in leaves and crowns of epiphytic plants. Food specialization is available at these species: fruits of trees of family Sapindaceae including inedible for other monkeys contain more than half of diet of these monkeys. Fruits of some Sapindaceae are poisonous being unripe or overripe, but features of digestion of monkeys of this species permit to eat even them without harm for themselves. Due to it decorated squirrel guenon avoids food competition to other species of monkeys and also to rodents.
Blue-faced squirrel guenon (Sciuropithecus cyanofrons). Distinctive features of this species is naked bright-blue face skin at monkeys of both sexes and of any age, and also cross-striped black-and-white tails (as at ring-tailed lemur or the coati raccoon). The body is colored gray-brown color; wool on extremities is lighter, at males on chin and throat there are long hair form “beard”, and on head there is black “hat” contrasting with it. Cubs have uniform gray-brown colouring, and they do not have strips on tails.
This species spends a lot of time on the ground, therefore at them the feature similar with coati and ring-tailed lemur had developed: these monkeys keep striped tails vertically, therefore any member of group can notice easily neighbours among roots of trees. Life of these monkeys is closely connected to trees of fig (Ficus) genus, which fruits frequently ripen on trunks practically at the ground level. Other features of behaviour at these monkeys are common for representatives of this genus.

Caribbean crested monkey (Papiopithecus mitratus)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Guenons (Cercopithecidae)

Habitat: Cuba, Great Antigua, sea coasts.
Human activity rendered significant influence on fauna of various areas of the Earth. One of its consequences was occurrence of representatives of one or another group of animals and plants in places where they could not reach in natural way. Before people Old World monkeys had been absent in New World. Green monkeys (Cercopithecus viridis) had been introduced in human epoch to islands of Caribbean Sea from Africa; and they had quite got accustomed in new motherland and had successfully gone through miseries appeared because of ice age. When islands of Caribbean Sea connected to each other, forming the land bridge, descendants of these monkeys were settled at the largest islands, having formed some species well distinguished from each other, but had not undertaken attempts of colonization of continents.
One descendants of green monkeys lives in coastal forests of Cuba – it is Caribbean crested monkey, rather large and almost terrestrial monkey. Body length of adult individual of this species is up to 70 cm, weight is about 30 kg. In its shape this monkey resembles baboon – it has large head, front and hind legs of approximately equal length, rather small feet and hands, and the tail strongly shortened in comparison to forest species. Wool of these monkeys has yellowish-brown color, a little bit darker on back, but edged by strip of light, almost white wool – such colouring helps monkeys to distinguish each other. Tail about 25 cm long with white switch of long hair on the tip has completely lost functions of the balance weight – Caribbean crested monkey spends on the ground almost all day time, and only for night gets on trees for sleeping. Nevertheless, such tail has the important alarm value – its position and movements of monkey express its emotional condition. The important role in emotion expression is played by demonstration of canines which are especially advanced at males.
Caribbean crested monkeys have clearly expressed sexual dimorphism. Males are larger, rather than females, have high dark cop looking like mitre on a top of head. At females the top of head is covered with short wool, and only in the middle of it the strip of dark wool stretches. Also at males hairless face skin has gray-blue color, and at females it is dark grey. Cubs at these monkeys have darker, almost black wool. Naked face skin which is colored light grey, almost white, sharply contrasts with its color. Juvenile colouring is a pledge of the good reference to cubs: adults forgive monkey tricks and food theft to them. But, as colouring changes to one characteristic for adult individuals, the relation to cubs also changes and they are compelled to struggle for place in group hierarchy.
These monkeys move in forest in groups: male, 3 – 4 females and their cubs of several previous years. Male is the indisputable leader in group and it demonstrates the superiority, taking off the found food at females and juveniles. Young individuals, as a rule, leave parental group. The female almost always can join any other group, but males keep in barchelor groups at the forest edge, and from there they can encroach to harems of mature males in hope to take a place of the leader there.
These monkeys inhabit seacoasts and coastal forests. In the afternoon they wander on beaches, selecting the fishes thrown out by waves and crustaceans, and also collect from stones seaweed. They supplement the diet with fruits of trees or insects. At night these monkeys are arranged on branches of trees and sleep, closely having nestled to each other.
The courtship season is not expressed, and at any time in herd there are young individuals and females ready to duplication. Самец confirms the rank with ritual poses more often and drives away contenders, showing to them оскаленные canines. Thus it(he) rises on hinder legs and can make in such position some steps.
Pregnancy at the female lasts till about 150 days, and more often two cubs are born. The lactation lasts up to about 8 months, but cubs start to try food of adult animals right at the third week of life. Puberty comes in 3 – 5 years. Life expectancy is till 25 years.
At Great Antigua Island subspecies of this monkey (P. m. antiguanus) lives – it is larger one having bright red wool and grey back. Monkeys from Great Antigua differ a little from inhabitants of Cuba in skill of gathering food in freshwater reservoirs. They can dive for food (monkeys from Cuba do not do it), but appear at sea coast less often.

The idea about existence of this species of mammals was proposed by Nick, the forum member.

Chemozit (Gravipapio chemosit)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)

Habitat: South African savannas.
Among the Old World monkeys, the baboon genus contained the most heavy primates after great apes, including mandrills and drills, whose number decreased greatly, however, in the era of Holocene human pressure. The changes in nature at the conjunction of two eras had destroyed the chances of survival for those species, as well as for great apes proper.
But besides mandrill and drill, among baboons there were many other relatively large primates, more suited to survival in the face of changes in their habitats. One of them was the Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus). An inhabitant of savanna, not the jungle, omnivorous, inclined to carnivory, it succeeded greatly and after the disappearance of people it evolved to chemozit, one of the largest primates of Africa.
Chemozit is actually a baboon of very robust constitution. The length of chemozit male may reach 3 meters, of female – 2-2.5 m; the short tail is 10-15 centimeters long. Its body is covered with yellow-brown hair, except for muzzle and butt, which are covered with black hairless skin; also mature males grow sideburns and beard of brighter, whitish color.
Hands and feet of chemozit have kept the general similarity with those of other primates, but its fingers are very rigid, almost non-bendable, with the exception of thumbs, therefore their grabbing ability is very limited. Hind legs are somewhat more powerful and longer than forelimbs, so chemozit can stand-up on them for a while for a better view of its surroundings or to frighten its enemy or rival congener. When moving, the rump of animal is slightly above the shoulders.
The main weapon of chemozit is its teeth. Both they and the jawbones are very thick and powerful. Canines can cause deep lacerations and break a neck of even a big animal, but chemozit hunts rarely. It prefers to eat carrion, or to steal prey from other predators. It also eats vegetative food, like hard pods of acacias and other plants. When searching for insects it breaks into anthills, termite mounds, and wasp and bee nests; due to its thick skin this animal easily endures their stings. The smaller females of this species especially love wild African cereals and similar plants.
Among chemozit males loners are frequent; sometimes they live in groups of two to three individuals. Successful males lead harems of 4-5 adult females, while protecting their offspring. Each female typically gives birth to one cub once in three years; twins are very rare.
The mating season of chemozit is not distinctive. Single males constantly impinge on the harems of alpha males and roam on the borders of their territories, declaring their intentions in loud roars. Periodically there are attempts of alpha males to win over females from their neighbors; usually it is a displaying of force and the length of canines, but on occasion real fights happen.
Young monkeys remain in their family’s clan until the age of three, and then they are banished. Puberty in females occurs at the fifth year of life, in males at the sixth or seventh year. The life expectancy of the chemozit can reach 35-40 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.
Translated by Bhut.

Umingmak (Arctotitanolagus umingmak)
Order: Hoofed lagomorphs (Ungulagomorpha)
Family: Huge lagoids (Titanolagidae)

Habitat: Central and Northern Eurasia, Beringia and Alaska (it is the only species of hoofed lagomorphs penetrated to New World).

Picture by Tim Morris

In Holocene fauna of Eurasia herbivorous mammal were presented by hoofed mammals of various families – mainly by deer and bovines, and also by less numerous pigs, elephants and perissodactyls (horses and rhinoceroses). As a result of human activity, hunting and habitat destruction, the majority of families of hoofed herbivores had disappeared. In Neocene bovines and deer had kept mainly in southern part of Eurasia and Africa where after human disappearance they had formed some separate families. To the north of ranges of Central Asia, in Europe, Siberia and Far East, the fauna of herbivores is presented by various descendants of pigs, and also by new group of animals – hoofed lagomorphs. This order of mammals, descended from true lagomorphs, includes animals of two types – gracefully built harelopes living in savannas, woods, steppes and mountains, and massive herbivorous huge lagoids to which aurochid from Northern Eurasia and huge obda from Siberia belong. These animals inhabit woods of Eurasia, and mountains of Eastern Siberia, Beringia, Alaska and plains of Far North are inhabited by one more species of massive line of hoofed lagomorphs, the umingmak.
“Umingmak” is the Eskimo name of musk ox. It indicates a role of this animal in ecosystems of northern latitudes: it is an ecological analogue of artiodactyls of Holocene epoch. Umingmak is the herbivorous cow-sized mammal. It lives the year round in conditions of seasonal sharply continental climate, not making long migrations like obda. In winter in habitats of this animal there is the thick snow layer and the temperature sinks up to -30°С, but umingmak is adapted to survive and to exist normally even in such inclement conditions.
In severe conditions of the North it is better to struggle for survival in common. Umingmak is gregarious animal keeping in herds of 30 – 40 ones and sometimes even more. This animal prefers district where wood and plains are combined. In winter umingmak avoids places where the thick layer of snow falls – in searches of forage it should dig snow out; therefore these animals go to forests. Umingmak frequently comes to frozen wood bogs where it is easier to find high last year's grass.
The animal is well adapted to severe climate of Siberia. Foot of umingmak is wide: it permits the animal to not fail in snow and to wander freely in snow-covered woods. Umingmak runs badly – its maximal speed is about 45 kms per hour. But the predator all the same can not catch it up on friable snow. Back legs of the umingmak are little bit longer than front ones, and the back is inclined forward – this animal meets in mountain areas of Central Eurasia and Beringia, and grazes on slopes. In winter umingmaks often meet in mountains, especially in areas where the wind blows snow off. They graze stalks of last year's grass and young branches of bushes. On nose of this animal the cross horn comb is advanced, assisting to dig snow. It gives to the animal some similarity to rhinoceros.
At the ground dug by umingmaks other herbivores, snow harelopes, distant relatives of the umingmak, feed. Umingmaks frequently search for forage in common with another large herbivore – Siberian shurga, the huge boar descendant. But they keep aloof of this aggressive animal, and feed with the rests of grass and bushes when shurga goes out.
Similarly to their far ancestors, hares, umingmak changes color of wool according the season. Summer wool of this animal is short and brown, lighter on cheeks and stomach. On throat and neck of males the “beard” of long hair develops – it is the secondary sexual attribute characteristic for various species of huge lagoids. Except for it, males of umingmaks differ in massiver head, rather than females. In summer wool on back of animal dark “belt” stretches. Winter wool of umingmak is long and white with grayish shade. At this time at the animal rich thin underfur develops. In spring shedding umingmaks find coniferous trees with dried up bottom branches, and scratch against them, leaving on branches and trunk flocks of shedding winter wool. At this time small birds take wool of umingmaks to build nests. And larger birds even sit on backs of grazed umingmaks and pull wool out right at animals. It does not cause them any anxiety: wool of this animal in general keeps in skin unsteadily, and easily drops out, if it is pulled out strongly. This feature rescues young umingmaks from small predators.
Head of umingmak is massive, with thick frontal bones and short strong jaws. The nasal cavity has grown up, nostrils are able to close – with their help animal adjusts temperature of inhaled air. Ears of animal are short and rounded – such feature had developed in cold climate where it is unprofitable to warm-blooded animal to have strongly extending parts of a body increasing heat emission.
Molars of umingmak are plicated and constantly growing – it is connected to diet of animal which includes rigid grass and branches of bushes. Forward pair of top incisors is wide, and all incisors of animal grow constantly. The feeding animal can bite across small branches of bushes. Umingmak is the exclusive vegetarian. In summer it eats leaves and grass, occasionally browses branches of bushes. In winter when it is very difficult to search for food, umingmak becomes less legible in forage: by wide feet and muzzle it digs out snow in searches of last year's grass and evergreen bushes. If the layer of snow is too thick, umingmak can rear and eat branches of trees, basing forward legs on tree trunk. It can eat even conifer needles.
The simple stomach of umingmak had actually turned to the fermenting chamber in which symbiotic bacteria live. Umingmak does not chew cud like artiodactyls, and digestion occurs, basically, in long bowels. For digestion of rough vegetative forage at the umingmak the volumetric caecum also occupied by bacteria is developed. Fermented food gets first to caecum, and then to bowels.
The rut of umingmaks takes place at the end of summer when animals are in the best physical condition. The female ready to pairing emits the special smell involving males. Around of such female some males gather and persistently follow behind her. Males establish hierarchy among themselves: they fight, pushing the contender away from the female by sides and shoulders. Occasionally, when there are two males of about equal force, they can even bite each other. The female emitting the specific smell can be attractive to males till some days, but it is ready to fertilisation till some hours per year. At this time one of strongest males from her “retinue” simply drives contenders off and protects the female, frequently pairing with it.
Pregnancy at umingmaks lasts about 10 months, and in spring at the female one cub (twins are extremely rare, and usually one of twins does not survive) is born. It is well advanced, and right after birth rises on legs. Umingmaks walk slowly, and run only in extreme cases, therefore the cub does not lag behind herd already at the first day of life. It is fed with fat milk and quickly gathers weight: at the autumn young umingmak weighs already about 300 kgs. The significant part of cubs had not reached age of two years perishes of winter fodder shortage. Having survived in first two years, young umingmak has an every prospect to reach maturity. Males mature at the age of four years, and the female do it at three years.

Black-headed dwarf harelope (Lepolopella nigriceps)
Order: Hoofed lagomorphs (Ungulagomorpha)
Family: Harelopes (Lagolopidae)

Habitat: steppes of Central Asia (up to eastern coast of Fourseas) except for bush thickets.
Harelopes have replaced in Neocene numerous hoofed mammals became mass species of herbivorous animals. Having developed plains, forests and woodlands, they were evolved to set of species with various appearance distinguished by different requirements in environment. In steppes adjoining to eastern coast of Fourseas black-headed dwar harelope, one of tiniest representatives of this group of animals, lives.
Growth of the dwarf harelope at a shoulder is about half meter. This is long-legged, fragile, gracefully build animal. Legs of this harelope end with sharp hoof-like claws providing excellent cohesion with ground at run (escaping from enemies dwarf harelope can accelerate momentum up to 60 kms per hour at short distances and also sharply change run direction).
Head of dwarf harelope is rather short and high, with strong chewing muscles: rigid graminoids made the basis of food of this animal. Living in dry and hot climate dwarf harelope has long ears penetrated with circuit of blood vessels which promotes effective cooling in heat.
Short wool of dwarf harelope is colored yellowish-brown with narrow close cross strips. Such colouring is consequence of special defensive strategy of dwarf harelope: having run any distance animal makes a long jump sideways and hides in grass having nestled to ground. Striped colouring reliably masks this harelope from predators.
Remarkable feature of colouring of this species is head parren – black head sides (areas around of eyes and cheeks). Nose bridge, nape, chin and throat are colored white. Such colouring of head helps animals to identify each other among grass and to support visual contact. Keen sight plays very big role in life of dwarf harelope: with the help of head movements animals can transmit signals to each other at big distances. If the grass is high, harelopes can even rear to support visual contact to the neighbour. At cubs head is colored the same color as body; only at approach of sexual maturity it gradually darkens.
Dwarf harelopes live in herds of 20 - 30 animals at wide grass plains with small thickets of bushes. There is no well defined leader in herd: the hierarchy is established by males only in short breeding season. Usually animals spend day in shadow of bushes and graze since evening till morning with short breaks for deep sleeping. And animals fall asleep by turns: a little from their number stay on the alert all the same.
For winter harelops migrate to the east away from Fourseas coast: during winter rains wool of animals can become wet that usually results in cold. And the ill harelope is easy catch for predators. In winter time rich underfur grows at them.
In the beginning of cool winter at harelopes the pairing season begins. At this time males become pugnacious and intolerant to each other. Rising they beat each other by forward legs, striking to opponent impacts by forward part of wrist. Such impacts do not harm fighting animal but at protection of the cub against small predator female can strike it direct impacts by hoof-like claws which can wound the aggressor seriously. However protection against the enemy with the help of hoof impacts is an extremely rare situation: usually dwarf harelopes seek safety in flight.
During courtship season males carefully sniff at all females finding ones ready to pairing. Such condition lasts at the female only some hours per year, and here it is important to use it in time. Male protects such female within day, repeating pairing some times. After the female will lose readiness for pairing and will cease to accept his carings, he searches for new females.
Pregnancy lasts about three months, then in early spring female gives rise to twin (sometimes even triplet) cubs. They are born very much advanced, with opened eyes, and after some hours are able to follow herd. At two-day age cub is equal in speed to adult animals.
Female feeds cubs with milk about 2 months, but already from week age the young growth starts to try forage of adult animals and change of diet passes gradually. At the age of eight months young animals get adult black-and-white colouring of head. They form independent herds and migrate to the east. At this time females become capable to pairing, and next spring they give rise to first litter. Males take part in pairing only one year later.
Life expectancy of black-headed dwarf harelopes is rather short and seldomly exceeds 10 years.

Australian marsh rabbit (Aqualagus natans)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Hares (Leporidae)

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Habitat: rivers and bogs of Eastern Australia.
During all Cenozoic in Australia marsupial mammals dominated. Due to absence of competition they had occupied practically all ecological niches with one exception. Because of features of cub bearing process marsupial mammals principally can not develop water habitats. Only in South America the water opossum (Chironectes minimus) had appeared but it had developed water habitat not in that degree as, for example, otter or seal. But activity of people had resulted in occurrence in Australia of big number of placentary mammal species. In Neocene among descendants of these animals one species successfully occupied Australian waters had appeared.
The place of water predator in Australian ponds and rivers was shared among different predatory reptiles. But the place of water herbivorous analogue of beaver and musk rat was earlier vacant. It was occupied by Australian marsh rabbit – descendant of rabbits introduced by humans. This small mammal had kept rather recognizing appearance characteristic for rabbits though it has got some adaptations to unusual habit of life.
This animal is able to swim perfectly and even to dive for 3 – 4 minutes. Strong hinder legs are adapted to swimming: feet at them are wide. Usually this rabbit swims having pressed forepaws to sides and making sharp simultaneous movements by hinder legs. Ears of marsh rabbit are short and rounded, they can close lengthways. Fur is short and rigid; it is white on stomach and cheeks and brown on sides and head. Along back some faltering dark stripes pass. Tail is short, white from wrong side.
Marsh rabbit eats leaves and tubers of water plants. Usually it foods in thickets of marsh grasses but in case of necessary can dive to the bottom for tubers of plants - arrowheads and aponogetons. Having dived marsh rabbit digs out tubers by forepaws. Its ears thus are folded and pressed to shoulders.
Dwelling of this original rabbit is the hole in steep river bank. The entrance to the hole is placed above maximal water level in the river and usually is disguised. Holes of different individuals are united to one system and stretch along river bank to tens meters. The settlement of marsh rabbits usually appears in place where there are shallows with thickets of water plants and reeds.
In rabbit holes other animals, usually birds and small lizards, frequently settle.
Settlements of Australian marsh rabbits include usually no more than one and half tens of adult animals – food resources of river are more limited than in places where rabbits lived earlier. Three - four times per year number of colony considerably grows: at does posterity appears. Usually first time doe of this species rises posterity being half year old. In litter usually there are four - five cubs. It is less than at rabbits introduced to Australia by people, but newborns of water rabbits are larger and also develop much faster. At fortnight age young rabbit cubs start to investigate world around. They leave a hole and gradually start to try plants eating by adult animals. Rabbit cubs very cautiously investigate water and make first attempts to swim. It is the most dangerous moment in their life – numerous predators – turtles, snakes and fishes hunt for inexperienced young mammals not able to swim quickly. And at any age predatory birds are dangerous to marsh rabbits and it is possible to escape from them having dived or having hided in hole.
These animals feed in shallow waters having hided among leaves of marsh plants rising above water. Because in this case the field of vision is limited at marsh rabbits the system of sound dialogue is advanced. Resting rabbits communicate with the help of short clicks. Having noticed the predatory bird flying by above thickets rabbit utters shout of alarm – prolonged chirring. Having heard this signal animals try to dive or hide under driftwood. To signal about the underwater danger marsh rabbits have other signal – shrill whistles.
Despite of care and collective system of enemy watching hardly probable tenth part from number of newborn rabbit cubs lives up to adult condition. And life expectancy of adult rabbit seldomly exceeds three years.

Common Australian rabbit (Australagus papiliotis)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Hares (Leporidae)

Habitat: Western and central Meganesia (up to the eastern coast of Eyre gulf and the zones bordering with the tropical rainforests at the north), various types of biotopes, from dry savanna to temperate forest.
In late Eocene epoch, the southern remains of the large continent of Gondwana broke in two great landmasses, Antarctica, and Australia, initiating the drift of this enormous island to the north. As the result of many millions of years of isolation from mainland, the Australian fauna became quite extraordinary and unique; some of the most unusual creatures in the Cenozoic evolved here. During late Holocene, the structure of this original fauna had considerably changed, due to human activity: whereas many endemic species of this subcontinent have disappeared, other ones, specially placental mammals were delivered from other zones of the Earth. The introduction of foreign mammals in the historic time, was in many cases more catastrophic than the direct action of human for the native marsupials: then, kangaroos and other small herbivores had to compete for food with enormous herds of sheeps, goats and rabbits, that eventually desertified great areas of terrain. Foxes, dogs and cats, also competed with local predators, and affected to the population of small marsupials and birds, by hunting them.
Though after the extinction of man, some of these ecological “aliens”, like the placental carnivores, were eliminated by epizooties, others, for example, dromedaries, rodents and rabbits, successfully adapted to the conditions, and started to evolve, filling the left niches. Due to this event, Australian mammal fauna during Neocene is a mix of three different stocks; most of the placentals are constitued by herbivores; the descendants of dromedaries diversified into various new species occupying many of the niches, nevertheless, there are also several herbivorous marsupials, some of them reaching a great size. Species of monotremes are not the most common creatures, though they’re more numerous than during Holocene. Predators are basically marsupial; and the small and medium sized ones usually prey on the ubiquitous and typical rodents and rabbits.
During the Holocene, the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuninculus) was intentionally introduced in Australia by the people. The propagation of these creatures occurred incredibly fast and within some years they expanded almost to the whole subcontinent, becoming a serious and uncontrollable plague affecting both humans and native animals. Rabbit species successfully survived after the extinction of man and endured the ecological accident that started to the Neocene epoch, becoming one more important element in the local fauna... and the food chain.
During Neocene, Australian rabbits diversified into many species, occupying some niches, some of them even leading a semiaquatic type of life. However those species, still quite recognizable, they have kept the small size and the typical shape of their ancestors. Because of the tendency of the ecosystems to rearrange with the pass of the time, the population of rabbits is not so large as it was during the historical time, it is controlled by the small predators that usually prey on them.
Many of the species are contained in the new genus Australagus, that literally represents the adaptation of rabbits to the different habitats in Australia. The most abundant and less specialized species of the genus is the common Australian rabbit. Body length in adult individuals is about 40-60 cm. Like all its relatives, the Australian rabbit is quite similar to a normal rabbit, and differ in very few aspects, nevertheless those species are quite remarkable due to a feature that distinguish them from other lagomorphs. They possess typical rather long and mobile ears, but when we look at their internal side, it can be appreciated that an original pattern of speckles and oculate spots is scattered. This special pattern, that vary in each species of the genus, quite remembers the colouring pattern of butterfly wing. That determines the specific name of the common Australian rabbit, A. papiliotis, which means “butterfly eared”. Ear colouring pattern in these species is less advanced than others, but still it’s very captivating: internal side of the ear is white, on it a great amber coloured oculate that seems an eagle’s eye appears, there are also some dark speckles of different shapes, including a stripe bordering the oculate spot by one side. This remarkable colouring feature is a quite important element in the social behaviour of the rabbits, used mainly in rituals and for recognition within neighbours, though in some cases it can serve for frightening off predators. Ears can easily be stretched widely, inclined to sides and folded back thanks to special nerves on them and advanced muscles on their basis. Body colouration of the Australian rabbit is yellowish brown with some dark spots at the sides, head, back and paws are darker, stomach and tail are white. Around eyes there’s a white spot; bordering it and along the nose bridge there is a black mask.
The common Australian rabbit has a wide diet range, it feeds on various types of aliments, from grass, leaves, bush branches, roots, up to insects. As well as its ancestors, Australian rabbit is a social animal living in colonies of tens of individuals, in great, complex burrows that expand with the pass of generations. The community is divided in social differentiated casts: there are some dominant individuals, and various types of subordinates. While the rank of the dominant females is immutable, in the case of males is constantly changed. Cada certain period of time, in the colony, a ritual for the hierarchical reestablishment is realised. In it, mature males flap their ears, and show the intern colouration to their opponents. Those who have the most expressed pattern become accepted by the dominant females.
6 times per year, females bring posterity to 8 blind, defenceless cubs. Dominant females nest in the principal burrow, whereas the subordinated ones have to do it in separated chambers.
When it’s reached a certain number of individuals, the overgrown colony has to be divided into two groups, one stays in the burrow, and the other leaves, searching for a new place of inhabiting.
Some more specialized relatives are adapted to different habitats:
Mountain Australian rabbit (Australagus orophilus) inhabits the eastern mountains up to the Great Dividing Ridge. It differs in greater size (adults can grow up to 70 cm of length), strong constitution and quite small ears. These species are adapted to life in the rigorous cold mountain habitats, they have broad feet with slightly cornificated skin under them for jumping and skipping easily on the rocks without receiving any harm. Fur is rich and fluffy, general body coloration changes seasonally, during the winter is light grey, whereas in summer it acquires a brownish shade. On the back some great longitudinal dark stripes are stretched, stomach is white. Ears in these species are rather reduced and rounded, an adaptation for living in cold conditions. Nevertheless the typical ear pattern has not disappeared: A great yellow oculate with a black spot in the centre almost occupies the whole ear, and some round dark stripes surround it. It feeds on whatever edible that could find, including seeds, little bush branches and moss.
Forest Australian rabbit (Australagus sylvaticus) Similar to the common species, though it is a bit smaller. Lives in woods and rainforests at northern and eastern Meganesia. It possesses a contrasted coloration: top part of the body is rusty brown with small light speckles, and stomach is white, both head and paws are very dark brown. On cheeks and around eyes there’s a zone of white hair. In these species, the colouration pattern of the ear characteristic of the genus is taken to extreme level: a myriad of speckles and stripes and an oval oculate of pink colour in the interior part of the ears, and a fringe of reddish long hair on their top edges, form a spectacular, matchless ornament.
The forest Australian rabbit feeds on the various wood plants, bark and fruits and nuts that fall from the trees.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Desert Australian rabbit (Australagus lepoides) These species living in the arid zones at the southwest part of the subcontinent resemble hares in many respects, especially due to their slender constitution and long ears. This form is adapted to the extreme conditions of the desert. It possesses rather long feet for racing in the sand. Quite long ears (up to 20 cm), are penetrated by a circuit of blood vessels; that serves for radiating the harmful heat. Fur is short and velvety, coloured very light yellow. This colouration helps it both to camouflage on the terrain and reflect the intense sunlight, avoiding so the overheat. The sole dark zones are two speckles over the eyes and the external part of ears. The ear pattern is rather degenerated, only some simple faltering stripes and an elongated red coloured oculate appear. It feeds mainly on grasses and roots, but during the severe drought season it can survive gnawing little dry branches and even pecking on carrion.
Colonies of this species are quite small, each one is constituted by less than ten individuals.

These species of mammals were discovered by Carlos Pizcueta.

Giant lake rabbit (Barocuniculus capybaroides)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Hares (Leporidae)

Habitat: marshlands around Carpentary Lake.
Evolution has given one serious limitation to marsupial mammals: due to their mode of reproduction they are almost completely unable to develop an aquatic lifestyle. Therefore, in the territory of Meganesia in the Neocene epoch aquatic mammals belong to two other groups. These are various platypi feeding on small aquatic animals and rabbits, having become herbivorous animals.
Giant lake rabbit is one of aquatic species of rabbits inhabiting the coastal zone of Carpentaria Lake, preferring wetlands with dry islands and extensive thickets of marsh vegetation. This species of rabbit in the process of evolution has acquired a significant convergent similarity with the capybara, South American caviomorph rodent. This is a large herbivorous creature with broad paws and sparse rough wool. It has almost lost the ability to jump: on land this animal moves on outstretched legs, and only being in water it can push off with both feet at once. Feet of the animal have elongated toes, which are connected by a thick swimming membrane. The height of the adult at the shoulders is up to 40 cm, the weight is about 10 kg. In spite of the adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle, this animal is able to run fast over short distances, but prefers to hide from enemies in the water.
The coloring of its wool is gray with a white belly and a white spot on the neck and shoulders, which prevents a predator to recognize the true contours of the body. The area around the nose, the tip of the lower jaw and the cheeks are white. The rear part of the body is darker than the front, and under the tail there is a vast area of white wool. In case of alarm the animal lifts its tail and shows this spot. Giant lake rabbit has large head with long whiskers and powerful incisors. The ears are very short, with a valve inside that protects the ear canal from water. The nostrils can close also. The eyes are large, shifted to the top of the head.
This animal is a good swimmer; while underwater, it paddles all its legs alternately, while swimming near the surface of the water. If it needs to dive, this animal paddles its hind legs at the same time, holding its front legs on its stomach. The basis of the diet is made of aquatic plants. Also this animal eats coastal vegetation and tree seedlings in boggy areas of forests. With the claws of its forepaws the rabbit digs up roots and tubers at the bottom of the lake and eats them on the surface of the water. In case of danger the animal dives and can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes at a depth of 5-6 meters.
It is a social species of animal, which settles in small groups of 2-5 breeding pairs on dry islands in the marshes. Each pair of adult animals digs a burrow under tree roots, a well-trodden path leads to the water among the vegetation. The depth of the hole can reach 5 meters. The pair of adults bear cubs 2 to 5 times a year. The cubs stay with their parents up to 3 months, and then leave the parent group. They lead an independent life in small groups which settle on the banks of rivers and swamps. Typically, these groups give rise to new settlements. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 4 months.
The life span of adult animals rarely exceeds 7 years. Enemies of this species are large reptiles (for example, the giant snake eingana (Eingana archonta)) and birds of prey.

The idea about the existence of this species of mammal was proposed by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Translated by FanboyPhilosopher.

New Azora tardolagus (Tardolagus novazorae)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Hares (Leporidae)

Habitat: woods and bushy thickets of New Azora.

Picture by Amplion

In human epoch the fauna of islands had undergone changes: various species of flora and fauna which could not appear at these islands by natural way had been introduced to islands. Occurrence of these species has broken natural balance of island nature, and ecosystem began to develop another way. New species of animals, descendants of introduced species, had taken the place in these ecosystems.
People had introduced rabbits to Azores (and to other numerous islands of the Earth). These animals had survived in epoch of global ecological crisis and evolved to species being a part of new ecosystems of Neocene. At the volcanic island New Azora very large species of ground herbivorous animals had appeared, the descendant of rabbit – New Azora tardolagus. It is the largest species of terrestrial (not connected to sea) inhabitants of island. Tardolagus represents herbivorous mammal weighting about 50 kg. By proportions of body this animal resembles various herbivorous mammals evolved at the continents – fossil chalicotheres (Chalicotherium), megatheres (Megatherium) and Neocene animals - ndipinotheres (Ndipinotherium)and groundsloth rodents (Tardimegamys). Tardolagus has long forepaws and inclined back. Due to “semi-bipedal” constitution tardolagus can rise on strong hinder legs with wide feet and gnaw branches of bushes and undersized trees. Standing on hinder legs, this animal reaches growth of one and half meters. During the feeding it tightens branches by forepaws on which large hooked claws grow, a little bit similar to claws of ground sloths. At movement on four legs the animal bases on external side of hands, turning claws by tips to each other. Because of massive constitution tardolagus moves walking (its name literally means “the slow hare”), and only in case of danger can run on small distances. Martillas, large local predators, represent the main danger to this animal. Tail at tardolagus is very short, long white colored hairs grow on it.
Wool on back, sides and hips is reddish-brown with dark spots forming faltering longitudinal lines. Lateral parts of head are white, tip of muzzle is dark. Forepaws from claws up to half of forearm are colored white.
Tardolagus eats rather soft forage – leaves, mushrooms and fruits of plants. Its muzzle is extended, and forward incisors are rather weak. The animal willingly eats dropped fruits of trees of laurel and heaths families, and with the help of claws digs out roots of ferns and other plants.
This animal meets in places overgrown with bushes and undersized trees – at riverbanks, in gorges and mountains of island. It avoids the areas overgrown with woods of tropical type with poor underbrush, where there is small amount of food. Tardolagus keeps in small groups of about ten adult individuals and young growth. This animal had strongly changed habit of life in comparison with ancestor: it had lost the ability to dig holes, and only makes beds in bush, or uses natural shelters to spend the night.
At danger tardolagus prefers to protect itself actively – it rises on hind legs, bites and beats the aggressor by long claws of forepaws. Thus it growls and opens mouth, showing incisors.
Breeding rate at tardolagus is very low in comparison with ancestor. This animal brings posterity once a year. At female one or two large cubs are born. They are more advanced, than newborn rabbit cubs, but not so advanced, as posterity of hares. For birth of posterity female leaves the group and searches for shelter for itself and posterities. The newborn cub of tardolagus is covered with dark wool, but blind and can not stand. Till first days the female hides posterity in shelter – in cave or among bushes. The cub develops quickly: at the second day it opens eyes and starts to explore world around. At week age the cub already is able to walk. Grown up cubs leave shelter and follow mother to join the group of congeners.
Young tardolagus begins able to bring posterity at the age of three years. Life expectancy of this animal is till 20 years.

Falkland xenolagus (Xenolagus subantarcticus)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Hares (Leporidae)

Habitat: Falkland Islands, flatland and mountain areas overgrown with grassy vegetation.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Studying of the biosphere of Earth of Neocene epoch indicates that in various places of the planet there are animal species which couldn’t appear in those places in natural way. Their existence is the result of human activity in casual or purposeful introduction of species. Actually, human activity broke the natural isolation of these or those districts and changed the course of evolution of the species making ecosystems.
At Falkland Islands during the historical era there were no large herbivorous mammals, and on islands the special type of tall grassy vegetation – tussock – developed. In Neocene the vegetation of islands looks otherwise: the grassy cover doesn’t reach great height and forms continuous extended turf. It is so because the large descendant of introduced rabbit – Falkland xenolagus lives on islands.
Xenolagus is very large species of lagomorphs: its weight reaches 30 kg and more. Xenolagus has heavy constitution: it is four-legged animal with large head and rather short plantigrade extremities. Unlike rabbit, xenolagus isn’t able to jump, and in case of need it runs gallop, rising on finger-tips. The body of animal is covered with dense fur which changes color depending on seasons. In summer the body coloring of xenolagus is grayish-brown with dark chestnut strip stretching on head, neck and along the back. Throat of animal is white; white coloring sometimes stretches on breast and stomach. In winter fur hair of animal are longer and colored lighter.
Life in cool Subantarctic climate led to reduction of the sizes of projecting parts of animal body. Xenolagus has short rounded ears capable to turn in various directions. The outer side of ears is black; on the base of ears there are white strips. Ears risen up become appreciable – it is an alarm signal. Tail of this animal is also short and covered with fluffy wool, white from the bottom side.
Xenolaguses are the sociable animals settling and feeding in common. Because of large size these animals need the considerable territory for feeding; therefore settlements of xenolaguses include no more than four or five pairs of adult animals and their posterity. For housing xenolagus digs wide holes up to 5 meters deep, ending with the living chamber. In holes of these animals flightless sea birds cavescars often settle and dig for themselves lateral tunnels opening in main tunnel. Holes of representatives of the same colony are located in the neighbourhood, at distance of several meters between them. Animals from different pairs know each other by smell and treat to “friends” rather tolerantly. Breeding pair at this species is formed for one season of reproduction and breaks up to the next courtship season; the hole is in possession of a female. Often happens so that males of different pairs during new courtship season simply move to another hole within the colony. The newcomer from outside should graze any time in common with representatives of the colony that they got used to its smell and presence. Usually young males move from one colony to another, whereas females born in the colony dig their holes near parental one or occupy the free holes in colony.
Due to size enlargement and increase of survival rate of posterity rate of reproduction of xenolaguses became much slower, than at their ancestors. Once a year female of this species gives rise to the litter of 4-6 cubs. The newborn xenolagus weighs about 300 grams, but quickly gains weight and in two weeks weighs about one kilogram. The newborn individual is covered with wool, but eyes and ears open only at the end of the first week of life. The young animal starts to pass to adult diet gradually at the age of 3-4 weeks, but stops the milk feeding only at two month age.
The sexual maturity comes at the first year of life; in litter of young female it may be only 1-2 cub. Life expectancy reaches 20 years.

Translated by Alexander Smyslov.

Alpine burrower (Procaecolagus visibilis)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Rabbit burrowers (Caecolagidae)

Habitats: Southern Europe, northern slopes of the Alps, mountain areas; the area of forests and alpine meadows.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Eurasia in real had never been an isolated continent. Only in early Cenozoic the midland seas had separated it into some fragments for a short time. But later water had receded, and the continent became the whole again. Connecting in various geological epoch to Africa and North America, Eurasia every time took part in exchange of flora and fauna representatives. Therefore the evolution of new endemic family of animals in Eurasia is rather rare event.
One endemic family of Eurasian mammals is rabbit burrowers family (Caecolagidae), including the descendants of rabbits specialized to burrowing habit of life. In area of steppes and forests of Europe there are some species of rabbit burrowers (Lepospalax), herbivorous mammals specialized to underground life. The species of animals close to them, a relict of early radiation of family is Alpine burrower living in the Alpes.
As against to species more evolutionally advanced, this animal has kept small eyes, hardly distinct among wool. It has very bad sight sense: Alpine burrower does not distinguish colors and is short-sighted. Lack of sight, however, is quite compensated by keen sense of smell and hearing.
The high-mountainous climate is hard; therefore Alpine burrower is larger than its plain and forest relatives and also has denser fur. It has muscled cylindric body about 55 – 60 cm long. Wool of animal is one-colour, dark brown or black at some individuals. Due to such colouring these animals are easily heated in rays of cold mountain sun.
Skull of animal is very strong; frontal and jaw bones are very thick. The forward pair of incisors is directed forward. These incisors are larger, than at plain-dwelling species; enamel layer on them is folded, that additionally strengthens their durability, and the teeth bases are stretched far back along the top part of skull. Strengthening of incisors is connected to necessity to dig tunnels in stony ground. Calvaria at Alpine burrower is wide. It carries out a role of protective helmet and can sustain significant loading – with the help of head the animal can raise and roll away stones weighting over 30 kg. Edges of calvaria overhang above eyes, protecting them from ground ingress. Nostrils of animal close at digging, and the mouth is protected from ingress of ground by lips outgrowths. Auricles of animal are short, rounded and gristly. The special outgrowth closes acoustic duct during the ground digging.
Paws of Alpine burrower are short and muscled. Forepaws are armed with strong claws, and muscles are attached to wide shoulder-blades. Tail of animal is very short.
Alpine burrower appears often enough on ground surface – at night animals eat grass and browse leaves of bushes, and in day time occasionally come out to get warm on sunny place. Similarly to their steppe relatives, Alpine burrowers drag in holes bush branches and bunches of grass dug out at the surface, in order to eat it in safety. It promotes enrichment of ground by nutrients. In addition to it Alpine burrower eats sappy underground parts of plants. It has immunity to plant poisons and can eat poisonous bulbs and tubers without any harm for itself.
Alpine burrower digs the vast systems of tunnels. The significant part of its holes is located at the depth of 20 – 30 cm, but tunnels for wintering stretch to the depth of several meters. Its building activity promotes aeration and hashing of ground, but this species can live only in places, where ground layer is thick enough for digging of tunnels. This species lives in small colonies numbering up to ten adult females and their posterity. Males have no constant territories and move from one colony to another, searching by smell for females ready to pairing.
Two times per one year female gives rise to cubs. In litter usually it is up to 5 – 6 cubs though large female in good physical shape has an opportunity to give birth to ten cubs at once and to bring them up successfully. They become sexually mature at the age of 5 – 6 months.

Beringian hutmaker (Architectona beringica)
Order: Lagomorphs (Lagomorpha)
Family: Haymakers (Ochotonidae)

Habitat: Beringia, Northern Asia, Big Kuril Isles; in New World from Alaska up to Greenland, to the south this species penetrates rather far along mountain ridges.
During Holocene epoch in “shadow” of hares there were their less appreciable relatives – haymakers (Ochotona). They are similar to rodents, and have no features of anatomy characteristic for hares – long back legs, permitting to develop high speed. But these lagomorphs have curious features of behavior – they gather plants and make of them hayricks for winter (for what they are named). In addition some species strengthen hayricks by stones and branches.
During the period of transition from Holocene to Neocene this course of evolution had been picked up and successfully advanced. Evolution successfully realized the task of survival of these small mammals in some steps. In glacial steppes of Central Asia where it is a lot of grass, climate is typically continental and winter is very cold, haymakers had became larger similarly to all polar animal. Accordingly, they began to provide a plenty of hay, and to protect it from wind at them feature of behavior was developed: animals began to throw large branches atop of hay. Surviving in steppe in small colony is rather difficult, and therefore, animals began to unite to the “towns” numbering tens of adult individuals: it helps them to increase efficiency of hay reserve.
But to prepare dry grass for winter yet does not mean to spend winter successfully. Large herbivores may easily find and to have eaten all hay provided by haymakers. And in steppes of an ice age herbivores were numerous. It were representatives of hoofed mammals, and also large rodents, new species have appeared in ice age. To save forage gathered to the winter, separate animals began to protect stocks, attacking on herbivores, and driving them away by cries, jumps and even bites. And then some populations had made one more step: they had started to use stocks of hay as shelters, gradually eating them up from edges and arranging an inhabited hole in middle of haystack. Gradually among them animals never settling in holes and other underground shelters had appeared. This step of evolution had resulted to changes of “house-building” behavior: “having come off” from dependence on available holes, rocks and crevices, animals have started to improve “architectural” behavior. They have started to build inhabited tents separately and did not mix them with stocks of forage. Inhabited tents of these animals began to be improved in features of design: at their construction a plenty of branches of trees and prickly bushes was used. For protection against enemies animals began weaving of branches dense walls, and the internal part of inhabited tent is covered with grass for warming. So the inhabited tent is completely separated from stock of forage in behavior of animal, and the building behavior evolved irrespective of food- providing one.
The Beringian hutmaker had kept features of haymakers in its appearance: it is similar to short-legged tailless marmot. Auricles of animal are very small, and eyes are large: it is an adaptation for life in conditions of polar night.
The body of Beringian hutmaker is covered with rich fur becoming longer to the winter. The fur is colored red with longitudinal black strip along the back. Wood populations of hutmakers also have dark speckles on back, and often strip is faltering. The length of body of this animal is about 40 cm; female is larger than male.
This species builds shelters as tents of branches, warmed from within with grass and bird feathers. For construction of dwelling the Beringian hutmaker chooses the prickliest branches, including coniferous trees ones. Building their shelter, animals accurately cut them out by strong incisors from the tree-trunk, and drag to building tent. To not give out their presence, animals cut branches on bushes from the edge of feeding territory. For an internal lining of house animals gather soft plants, thin stalks of grasses, wool of sheded animals, and feathers.
In tent up to 2 meters in height there are some inhabited chambers at two or three floors. The population of one tent makes approximately 4 – 5 pairs of adult animals, and their posterity. Near to inhabited tent stocks of food for winter are located: animals gather some stacks of grass, and surround an inhabited tent by them – it complicates their search by predators. Beringian hutmakers start to provide a forage approximately from second half of summer. To dry up a grass and to not spoil it during a rain, some animals in clan constantly watch weather: if there are signs of rain, they quickly carry off drying grass under trees. In summer the majority of animals are occupied with preparation of stocks of forage – they run to glades, cut the overgrown grass, and drag bunches of picked plants to the common storehouse.
In winter to keep stocks of a forage is vital for clan, therefore in winter in stacks of hutmakers adult animals and teenagers often “are on duty” – usually they are males having subordinated position in clan or young animals not having families.
The adult females already had giving rise to cubs, stand at top of hierarchy in clan. Per one year at them it may be 2 litters. Cubs are born well advanced, with opened eyes and covered with wool. They early become independent: already at week age cubs actively eat forage of adult animals. The young growth, which has been born at the end of summer, spends winter with parents, and the posterity from first packs arranges new settlements independently. They quickly grow, and can give posterity the next year. Life expectancy of Beringian hutmakers can reach 10 years.
Young animals frequently “convert” for habitation old stocks of forage, strengthening walls of stacks by branches, and arranging inside inhabited chambers. Doing it, they as though repeat evolution of dwelling of the hutmaker - from stock of forage to constant habitation. Usually young females from growing old clan do it. Gradually they move to the true specially made tents, and their posterity occupies their habitation.

Sun flying fox (Posteidolon solaris)
Order: Chiropters (Chiroptera)
Family: Flying foxes (Pteropodidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, tropical woods.
When till the ecological crisis at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene some birds had become extinct, including predators and the majority of tropical groups like parrots, bats had an opportunity to occupy new habitats which were formed in Neocene. Some species of these mammals began much more active in day time, and in some cases compete to birds as equals. An example of such species of chiropters is the sun flying fox, the descendant of palm flying fox (Eidolon helvum), living at the Eastern-African subcontinent (Zinj Land). Appearing in conditions of partial isolation, this species had appreciably changed habit of life, had settled in rainforest, and had partly occupied an ecological niche of animals of forest canopy.
This is rather large chiroptere: body length is about 30 cm, and wingspan is almost 1 meter. The animal differs in rather massive and strong constitution, and weighs about 2 kgs. Wings of sun flying fox are shorter and wider, than at other representatives of order: it is directly connected with the habit of life of this animal. Sunny flying fox does not like to fly long, limiting to short flights from tree to tree. In rich tropical wood skill to fly quickly is not always expedient, but well clambering animals get appreciable advantage in survival. More often animals of this species prefer to climb on trees, clinging by hind legs and hooked claws growing on free thumb of wing. Thumb at this animal is advanced much better, than at other chiropters: it is thicker and stronger, and claw on it permits this animal to hang under the branch.
Hanging to branches upside down, the sun flying fox dexterously moves on them in searches of fruits. By manner of movement it resembles the sloth, but moves much faster than it (this chiroptere accelerates speed up to 5 km per hour). When it is necessary, animal can even make small jumps from branch to branch like a monkey. This animal reluctantly flies, making it only in case of emergency – flying to other tree in searches of food, or escaping from clambering predators. In flight sun flying fox feels like not so confidently, as other species of chiropters: it frequently flaps wings (its flight resembles flight of gallinaceous birds), and sometimes at all prefers to glide from tree to tree similarly to flying squirrel. The importance of flight in life of this species is so low, than even the animal having injured flying membrane, can exist and take part in breeding normally.
The color of wool at sun flying fox partly justifies its name: fur is darkly yellow (“honey” shade) or sometimes light brown. On stomach wool is brighter, than on back. Membranes of wings are covered with thin wool on the top side. On neck of animal there is an ornament: collar of rusty-red fur, especially advanced at males. Skin of wings is dark brown, contrasting with color of fur.
The head of the solar flying fox looks similar to head of dog with small ears and large reddish eyes. It is 0rather wide, because animal eats various vegetative foods and at it chewing muscles are advanced. On skull of this chiropters even the low longitudinal crest serving for their attachment is developed. This chiroptere usually eats fruits of any degree of ripening; from unripe up to began to rot, but it also supplements a diet with leaves and young sprouts. Sometimes sun flying fox includes food of animal origin to its diet: eggs and nestlings of birds, frogs and insects. Animal eats fruits simply hanging on branch near to them, and catches small animals by tenacious hinder legs. Their flexibility permits to this chiroptere to bring the caught prey by hinder leg right to the mouth.
As against flying foxes of other species, this species keeps solitarly. Sometimes on one fructifying tree it is possible to meet several animals of this species, but they keep separately, not coming nearer to each other. In morning time animals of this species like to “sunbathe”: climbing up on light up branches, they stretch wings, having put their inner side and stomach to beams of rising sun.
The breeding season takes place till all year. Males ready to pairing, involve females by special “warbles” sounding like long series of clicks. To meet the female the male prepares special branch: on thick horizontal branch he makes some odorous marks, using musk secretions of specific gland on chin. The same secretions impregnate his fur collar, strengthening the smell of animal. Female ready to pairing, finds these marks in forest canopy, and waits for the male near of one of them. To draw his attention, the female utters short calls. After pairing female leaves male’s territory and he continues marriage appeals.
Once per one year at the female one cub is born, occasionally there are twins. The female holds posterity in the “cradle” formed by stomach and wings. First some days of life the cub is so helpless, that the female, compelled to fly, carries him in mouth. Later the cub becomes covered with wool and begins able to keep by mother during her flight. Approximately at three-week age cub starts to study to climb on branches. Posterity stays with mother for a long time: even having studied to fly, and having reached 70 % of weight of adult animal, the young animal does not leave mother. Because of these circumstances the rate of reproduction at sun flying foxes is very slow: for one year the female can give birth to posterity only once (or two times if the first birth happens in the beginning of current year and the second one happens at the end of year). But the posterity is teaching by mother in skills of food searching in tropical wood, learns terms of fructification of various trees and ways of protection against enemies. Besides the female actively protects posterity in first months of life, and its survival rate is rather high.

The idea about existence of this species of animals was supposed by Bhut, the participant of forum.

Striped singing bat (Musicilio striata)
Order: Chiropters (Chiroptera)
Family: Common bats (Vespertilionidae)

Habitat: subtropics of Europe, southwestern coast of Fourseas.
Chiropters had evolved at the Earth right at the beginning of Cenozoic, appreciably later, rather than birds. Probably, the nocturnal habit of life had helped these animals to avoid a competition to birds. Chiropters had achieved significant success in evolution - in human epoch they made up about a quarter of variety of mammalian species. Among them the species occupying various ecological niches had evolved: herbivores, nectarivores, insectivores, predators and even blood-sucking parasites. Chiropters of some species form colonies which number is measured by millions of individuals.
Chiropters had rather safely gone through global ecological crisis. Among them highly specialized tropical species, and some species of small total number had become extinct. But right after stabilization of environment conditions chiropters had entered new blossoming. Some Neocene chiropters during the process of evolution had developed very original features of behaviour.
Some kinds of separate genus of chiropters – singing bats (Musicilio) live in warm-temperate and subtropical areas of Europe. They belong to the number of medium-sized representatives of group – wingspan at them does not exceed 30 cm, and more often it is even smaller.
These animals have not only echolocation, but also well advanced system of sound communications. Voices of males of these mammal differ in originality. At different species of these chiropters at similar sounding echolocating signals voices in heard part of sound range strongly differ. These animals are able to utter various sounds – from single clicks and simple monotonous trills up to rather complex signals, including a sequence of sounds of varying frequency.
Striped singing bat lives in subtropical forests of Europe. It is one of typical representatives of genus. At these animals wool is colored black, and on this background from shoulders along the back two wide white strips stretch. Hairless membrane of wings is also dark. Male and female at this species differ in colouring. At males strips on back are wider, than at females, and on throat often there is a white spot. The female of striped singing bat has two thin faltering strips on back, and besides it is larger a little, rather than male. It is the most impressively looking species of the genus, other species are colored less brigher.
Muzzle at all singing bats is short and wide. On the nose high leaf-shaped outgrowth grows, on each side of which chink-like nostrils extended vertically open. Mobile edges of nostrils are supplied with special muscles which change width of nostril and density of its closing. “Playing” by edges of nostrils, singing bats “sing” at the exhalation. They send echolocating signals by mouth, as usual bats.
At singing bats there are large oval ears with pointed tips and large hircuses. At striped singing bat edges of ears are covered from external side with short white fringe.
Wings of these chiropters are short and have rounded tips. Long tail is half included in interfemoral membrane. Flight of these chiropters is slow and flitting. Singing bats are active in twilight and at night. They are mainly omnivorous, and also eat large flying insects (moths and beetles) and ripe fruits of plants. Various species have preferences in diet, but the species eating more vegetative food dominate at the south, and at the north migrating insectivorous species prevail. But even northern species during the fruit ripening time pass to partly vegetarian diet.
The courtship season at singing bats comes in summer, and one cub is born at the female in spring of the next year. At each species of singing bats the specific song differs from those at close species. Males of striped singing bat involve females with the sounds similar to twittering. Every male displays itself, hanging on the branch from below and arranging the “concert”. Sometimes on one tree some males gather, and they organize the original musical competition. However, at these animals males not always suffer the presence of competitors – it happens, strong, but badly singing male simply disperses contenders to near trees. But it has very insignificant chances of success – during fight it is compelled to interrupt song, and females search for others males. Every male tries to sing as long, as it is possible, not interrupting. Calling the female, male utters short abrupt trills. When the female answers his appeal, male starts to sing actually courtship song – series of whistling sounds. First “syllable” of his songs is the longest, and each subsequent one is shorter, than previous, and its tone is higher. During the song performance male stretches wings and displays to the female its own size.
In the afternoon singing bats prefer to hide in shelters – usually in hollows of trees or under bark. They do not form big colonies, and search for society of congeners only during migrations or in courtship season. Striped singing bat belongs to migrating species, and in autumn, with approach of time of cold fogs going from Fourseas, it flies to the south – to mountain valleys of Asia Minor. These chiropters make flights at night, and hide in various casual shelters, gathering in groups of some tens individuals in day time. The disturbed animals are very aggressive. They hiss to the enemy and put painful bites.
Some birds may be enemies of singing bats. During night hunting owls attack them, and large gospodar woodpecker pecks hollows where these animals hide, and eats them.
Along the coast of Fourseas, in subtropical areas of Europe with soft climate other species of singing bats are found:
Common singing bat (Musicilio cantans) is the most widespread species of genus. It lives at the extensive territory: from woods in Central Europe at the west up to forest areas in deltas of rivers flowing to Fourseas at the east. Populations from edges of area make migrations, and inhabitants of southern areas – Caucasian Peninsula and Balkan – are settled and run to short-term hibernation. This species of chiropters has dim colouring: male is black with brownish shade and white spot on throat; female has dark brown wool, and it does not have spot on throat. The only ornament in colouring of this species is thin strip of white wool at edges of ears. Ears are rounded; nasal outgrowth is wide and short. Wingspan makes about 25 cm. The voice of male represents a simple trill of short abrupt sounds.
Greater singing bat (Musicilio grandis) is the largest species of the genus – at some individuals wingspan exceeds 35 cm, though usually it is less. Colouring of wool at this species is very light – white with yellowish shade; on head there is darker “cap” (at the male it is bright red, at the female brown). This species lives at the south – in mountain forests of Balkan and Asia Minor, near borders of salt and hot Mediterranean Lowland. The basis of ration of this animal is made of fruits of trees and large insects. Courtship call of the male sounds like sharp abrupt serialized singing.
Caucasian singing bat (Musicilio caucasica) inhabits mountain and coastal forests of Caucasian Peninsula, and migrates for wintering to mountain valleys of Asia Minor. This small species of bats (no more than 20 cm in wingspan) utters the melodious modulating singing similar a few to the voice of small songbirds. This species of chiropters is especially active in twilight and in dawn time. The wool is colored grey with dark strip along the back; at males on throat there is a yellowish spot. This species eats insects, and only in middle of summer passes to feeding on soft and overripe fruits.

Cat-headed pipistrelle (Hirtofalco felinocephalus)
Order: Chiropters (Chiroptera)
Family: Predatory bats (Carnonycteridae)

Habitat: tropical woods of Central Africa.
After extinction of majority of predatory birds species representatives of other groups of vertebrates began to develop their ecological niche. Usually various birds became flying carnivorous creatures, but some species of mammals from chiropters order successfully competed to them. Some bats passed from insects to more sizeable forage: they began to hunt birds and small mammals.
Cat-headed pipistrelle is predatory day time species of chiropters, descendant of one of African pipistrelle (Pipistrellus) species. Because of injurious habit of life at this animal the structure of body has considerably changed. Cat-headed pipistrelle had turned to day time predator, and now it hunts birds and small animals in trees crones finding them with the help of sight. At this species eyes are very large and directed forward: sight is binocular. Ears are long, triangular and peaked. The skull of cat-headed pipistrelle is short, jaws are rather wide: its head is similar to comical portrait of cat. The mouth of animal can open widely – it is connected to mode of catch killing: this chiroptere kills caught animals by sting in head. Its molars because of it have got the special form: they are prolonged and work as edges of scissors crushing backbone and skull of catch (the similar adaptation was at fossil “marsupial lion” Tylacoleo). Outgrowths on nose characteristic for the majority of bats at this species are small and echolocating abilities are reduced – catch can hear voice of bat and hide. This animal weighs about 300 grammes having wingspan up to 70 cm. Colouring of wool is reddish-brown, ears are black and above eyes there are black stains. On chest of male there is yellowish spot.
This species of chiropters hunt in forest among branches, therefore its flight differs in maneuverability and high speed. Wings are long but rather wide: bat easily can change direction of movement and fly round branches. Back extremities of animal are almost free: the flying membrane is attached only to external edge of hips; short tail has only small skin edging on its basis. Hinder legs at this bat are very tenacious, the toe and little toe can oppose to others, why the grip of this animal becomes doubly stronger. On toes hooked claws grow. Speed of reaction at cat-headed pipistrelle is so fast that this mammal can easily grip birds by each paw promptly having flown by through their flight.
Mammal eats caught prey somewhere on branch. Pipistrelle plucks caught birds by hinder leg holding in mouth (on the contrary it flays small mammals by teeth holding in paw). The animal eats catch with bones easily chews them by powerful jaws.
Each pipistrelle has hunting area in forest canopy vigilantly protecting from neighbours. When two pipistrelles meet at the border of territories, they begin menacing demonstrations which however do not pass to combat: animals are afraid to injure flying membrane, therefore teeth and claws are out of use. Animals open wings, flap by them to the contender’s side and loudly squeal at this moment, widely opening mouth and showing canines. After this bloodless, but noisy duel both animals mark borders of territory by urine and peacefully miss each other.
Twice per year in breeding season males “paste up” on borders of territory odorous “announcements” for females with the help of secretions of musk glands on throat. Female ready to pairing hangs to branch near to such mark and waits when male begins to inspect borders of its possession. Sometimes it even rubs stomach against male’s mark to interrupt its own smell and to not cause aggression in it. If the male is to her liking female forms pair with him and moves on his territory. Pairs at cat-headed pipistrelles are formed not only for breeding season, but also for all time while female look after posterity – two and sometimes even three cubs. At this time male is compelled to hunt almost constantly. Cubs are born naked and blind, but quickly open eyes and become wooly. First time female carries them on itself but later starts to leave them on branch. Approximately since the second week of life cubs gradually pass from milk to meat food – in the beginning they eat semidigested meat, then fresh one and at last at bi-monthly age they study to catch small animals independently.
Sexual maturity comes at the age of half-year. Life expectancy is about 10 years.

Silent flying wolf (Pterolupus silentiosus)
Order: Chiropters (Chiroptera)
Family: False vampires (Megadermatidae)

Habitat: light forests at the south of Meganesia.
After mass extinction evolution can make unexpected moves and then in ecosystems very original species of live creatures evolve, occupying in ecosystems a role unusual from the point of view of the human. It has taken place so in Neocene Meganesia (the continent uniting Australia and New Guinea). Here predatory medium-sized birds were pressed by very unusual representative of chiropters which has received the name the flying wolf.
In Holocene in tropics of Old World large chiropters, flying foxes, had widely settled. They had received the name only for features of shape, because they were vegetarians. The flying wolf from Meganesia bears the name more deservedly. Its appearance does not resemble wolf’s one at all, but this chiropteran has surpassed its ground wingless “prototype” in injurious bents and dexterity of prey catching. Flying wolf belongs to suborder Microchiroptera and is the largest species of bats of Neocene. Wingspan of this animal is about 150 cm, and weight reaches 1 kg. Body of this animal is muscled, on chest the keel (atypical formation for small chiropters, which is more typical for large flying foxes) is well advanced. Wings of flying wolf are long and pointed, and flight is very fast and maneuverable. The thumb on wing is well advanced and mobile; with its help flying wolf holds catch when eats it, and also clings to bark of trees and rocks. The wing membrane of this large species of chiropters in addition is strengthened by collagen fibers which stretch from bones to edge of wing.
The tail of flying wolf is approximately equal by length to back extremities. The interthign membrane completely includes it, but covers back legs approximately up to knee joint. The membrane of wings also covers legs only up to knees. Shins of this animal are lengthened and muscled, well adapted for catch seizing. Toes are mobile and armed with hooked claws from which the small animal cannot escape. On little toe the especially large claw, with which help the animal kills the seized animals, is advanced.
The wool of animal is colored brown, on throat there is a spot of yellow wool. Eyes are led round by rings of white wool. Membranes of wings are colored dark grey.
Flying wolf hunts in day time and in twilight, and has good color sight. Echolocating abilities at this chiropteran are substantially lost (this animal does not distinguish small objects), and express only during the flight in twilight. During day time hunting flying wolf does not use an echolocation at all (hence its specific name). In connection with this feature the muzzle of flying wolf is partly lack of skinny outgrowths characteristic for bats. On nose bridge of this animal the short vertical outgrowth grows, and small skinny platen surrounds nostrils from outside. Ears are rather short and triangular-shaped with pointed tips. They are connected to each other in the top part of head, and their tips are turned in sides.
This species of bats is an active predator, and eats various vertebrates of small and medium sizes. More often it hunts birds and small ground or climbing animals – mammals and reptiles. Large eyes of this predator are shifted forward and provide good binocular sight.
During the hunting flying wolf grasps catch by hinder legs, and sticks claws deeply into it. The sharp claw on little toe puts to catch deep wounds from which it bleeds profusely and perishes. Flying wolf especially frequently attacks various birds – pigeons, small parrots and large passerine birds. The predator hunts them not hiding: it frightens away birds, and rushes through their flight, trying to grasp catch by paws. Sometimes it succeeds to seize two birds at once. This chiropteran attacks small animals from air, and tries to kill by claws at once. Flying wolf does not like to hunt among rich trees where the probability to injure the wing membrane is high. However it dexterously seizes various tree-climbing animals from large branches and tree trunk.
The courtship season at flying wolf comes at the end of rain season. At these aggressive bats each individual protects the territory from neighbours, and because of it pairing can become complicated. The male is larger than the female, but even in this case there are reasons to him to be afraid of her – protecting the territory, female attacks wings of the male. Therefore, to constrain her aggression, male presents the female with small gift – killed small animal. If the female is ready to pairing, she accepts it, and till some days animals keep together and sleep on one tree. For these days the male is coupled many times to the female and drives off other males from her. Then the female banishes him.
In the beginning of the next rain season female gives rise to one large, but helpless cub. The first weeks of life she flies to hunting with it, but later she starts to leave it in tree-trunk hollow. Development of the cub proceeds about four months. At this time it passes from parent’s milk to meat food and tries to catch small animals (insects and lizards) itself, not being able to fly at all. At the age of about 15 weeks the cub starts to study to fly, and in three weeks it leaves mother and leads independent life.
The young flying wolf reaches maturity at the second year of life. Life expectancy of this chiropteran reaches 30 – 35 years.

Swift-winged whiskered bat (Setostomops hirundipterus)
Order: Chiropters (Chiroptera)
Family: Molossid bats (Molossidae)

Habitat: South America, edges of tropical forests, woodlands.
Among mammals chiropters concede in variety only to rodents. At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene the part of species of this group had died out because of destruction of habitats – mainly because of destruction of tropical forests. But in any case some species were numerous enough, and in epoch of biological crisis the order remained various all the same.
In Neocene in plains and light forests of South America herds of herbivores wander – tapirotheres and huge coursing rodents – deermara and giant paca. Herds involve plenty of blood-sucking insects – flies, mosquitoes and midges. And rather large bat hunts for insects – it is an animal having wingspan of up to 50 cm and weighs of about 200 grammes. All bats are remarkable by more or less advanced outgrowths on muzzle, and also by ears frequently of strange shape – these are adaptations for echolocation. At this bat strange appearance is added with a plenty of rigid long bristles surrounding its muzzle. For this feature it has received the generic name “whiskered bat”, and the shape of wings is a reason of specific epithet “swift-winged”.
Wings of this little mammal are pointed; flight is fast and prompt with sharp turns. Tail of swift-winged whiskered bat is long; the interfemoral membrane includes it completely, but hind legs from knee and below it are free of membrane.
This bat eats large insects which gather around of representatives of megafauna. For prety catching animals of this species have got the special adaptation: around of their mouth resilient hair grow, increasing trapping surface. The similar adaptation is present at basket-mouths and lustrer birds of Apodiformes order, living in Central and Eastern Asia, and it represents an example of convergence – at representatives of different classes from germs different by origin organs similar by function are formed.
Muzzle of swift-winged whiskered bat is very freakish. The nose of animal is short, and narrow nostrils are extended vertically and almost parallel to each other; the top of nose is slightly below forehead. Edges of nostrils are mobile; nostrils can open or close as narrow slot. Small eyes are directed forward and are located at height of half of length of nostrils. Upper lip is splitted by vertical cut, and its halves can move independently from each other. Edges of upper lip hang down and are covered on edge with eresilient trapping hairs. The same hairs grow on the bottom jaw. When animal opens mouth during hunting, halves of upper lip shift in sides, and the bottom jaw moves downwards. Bristles, sticking in sides, form a funnel directing the met insects right to the mouth.
During the feeding this bat utters echolocating signals with the help of nostrils. Ears of this species are small. They are pressed to the head and are opened as two slits closed on top of the head – tips of ears are densely pressed to each other, and the forward line of ear adheres to head with the help of skin membrane.
Body and head of animal are covered with bright rusty wool. Male differs from female in larger size.
Swift-winged whiskered bat is crepuscular and nocturnal animal not competing to diurnal insectivorous birds. In day time this bat hides in hollows. It forms small congestions numbering up to 20 – 30 individuals. These groups have rather constant structure – no more than 20 % of individuals changes for one year.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of whiskered bat is not present. One cub is born by female in any season, but more often it happens in autumn months, in rain season. Young individuals become capable to breeding at the second year of life. Up to this time their wool differs by colouring from wool of adult individuals – it is darker and dimmer.

Megaardvark (Megaardwark armatus)
Order: Aardvarks (Tubulidentata)
Family: Aardvarks (Orycteropodidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, light forests and tropical woods.
Having African origin, the order of aardvarks never differed in variety, and distribution of these animals was always limited to area of warm climate. These animals are specialized in feeding on insects though by biochemical parameters they are close to ungulates.
When the East-African subcontinent, or Zinj Land had splited off from Africa, among its inhabitants there were aardvarks (Orycteropus afer). These animals could go through the time of biological crisis, because they lived not in woods, but in savanna, and social insects which these animals ate, were kept in enough. Gradually the climate changed, and the significant part of the area of Zinj Land was occupied by tropical woods. The descendant of aardvark – the megaardvark, very large insectivorous animal, inhabits these areas.
Megaardvark is a plantigrade animal moving on hind legs and resembling old-fashioned reconstruction of any dinosaur. The body length of megaardvark including tail makes up about 3 meters, and height in a waist is up to one and half meters. The long tail of animal similar to tail of kangaroo, but thicker, counterbalances forward part of body. When the animal eats to satiety, in tail the stock of fat is accumulated. Features of locomotion of megaardvark are reflected in structure of its skeleton. Sacral bone of this animal is large; some last lumbar vertebrae and first tail vertebrae are fused with it to unite rigid structure. Hind legs of megaardvark are very strong and brawny. If necessary the animal is able to run, but speed of its run is only about 20 kms per hour. The massive animal can not run long, and runs keeping such speed only about from hundred to two hundred meters.
If the megaardvark is attacked by predator, the animal prefers to not seek safety in flight and to protect itself with the help of its main weapon. Forepaws of this animal are armed with constantly growing thick claws. At this one 3-rd and 4-th fingers on which claws reach the length of 20 cm are especially strongly advanced. Usually megaardvark walks, having pressed forepaws to chest. Occasionally animal bases by claws on the ground, especially during the feeding. But the main function of claws of megaardvark is not defense, but destruction of nests of social insects, ants and termites. Besides megaardvark breaks by claws rotten trunks of trees in searches of grubs, and digs out wood litter. In addition to insects it eats spiders and even small vertebrates – frogs, lizards and nestlings of birds nesting on the ground. The megaardvark is convergently similar to huge stegoechidna from tropical forests of Meganesia, but does not eat the vegetative forage.
Megaardvark is specialized to eating of insects and other small animals. It has weak bottom jaw and very small mouth on the tip of long narrow snout. Teeth are strongly reduced and presented only by three or four pairs in each jaw. They represent cylindrical formations with thin layer of dentine and easily erased soft pulp. The animal frays caught animals by them. Tongue of megaardvark has very remarkable structure. It is very long – the tongue is able to extend from the mouth more, than to half-meter. The basis of tongue is shifted far back, and attached to brest, as at anteaters of Holocene epoch. Tongue consists of elastic muscles, and inside it the thin sinew retracting the tongue in mouth is stretched. The surface of tongue is covered by large knobs and small corneous thorns between which glands emitting sticky secret are located. Such tongue allows not only to extract insects, but even to pull small lizards and frogs out from holes.
Insects are not safe forage. Many kinds of social insects, which are searched by megaardvark, are armed sharp mandibles, and ants have also poisonous glands. Poison of some ants eaten by megaardvark, can easily kill cat-sized animal. For protection against insects nostrils of megaardvark can close with the help of special ring muscles. Eyes are another place of this animal vulnerable for attacks of insects. Eyes of megaardvark are small; they are protected from casual penetration of insects by dense rigid eyelashes. At megaardvark there is bad sight, but it does not prevent it to live normally. Sharp sight is not so necessary for life in rich and shady tropical forest. This animal searches for forage with the help of very keen sense of smell, and the hearing provides it the additional information about the world around.
The wool of megaardvark is thin and rough, similar to pig bristle. The whole body of animal is covered with thick and strong wrinkled skin which can not be penetrated through by mandibles of insects. Besides on back of this sluggish animal some rows of dermal ossifications (as at fossil ground sloths like Megatherium) are developed. The predator, risked to attack megaardvark, risks to break teeth biting to its back. The adult megaardvark practically does not have enemies.
This animal usually eats termites and ants, destroying their nests. This is one of few animals of Zinj Land which is not afraid of vagrant ants. Except for them, megaardvark digs out digging insects from wood litter and searches for larvae in rotten wood. Megaardvark often feeds on carrion and rests of prey of local predators. It can not tear off and swallow pieces of meat, but all the same it finds a lot of edible things on the rests of carcass – megaardvark eats maggots and grubs developing on it. High acidity of gastric juice makes such diet of animal safe, protecting it from bacterial infections.
The ancestor of megaardvark was well-known for skill of hole digger. Megaardvark had practically left this skill. For spending the night the animal digs to itself non-deep hole in wood litter, usually near the fallen tree. These animals are solitary ones meeting only for pairing. Seasonal prevalence in breeding of megaardvark is not expressed. Pregnancy lasts till about 17 months. Once in two years the female gives rise to one large cub. It has soft skin, and dermal ossifications are poorly advanced. Therefore the cub of megaardvark is very much vulnerable not only for predators, but even for vagrant ants quietly eaten by adult animal. However it is born well advanced, and in some hours after birth is able to follow mother. The female looks at it within approximately 7 months (at this time she pairs once again). The young megaardvark becomes able to breeding at the age of about five years. Life expectancy of this animal is more than 60 years.

Forest horned cony (Ceratohyrax prolongocornis)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Hyraxes (Hyracidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, various kinds of plain and mountain forests.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In early Neocene, after extinction of significant part of species of ungulates, representatives of earlier not numerous and uniform group of hyraxes had got an opportunity to show their evolutionary potential. Among them representatives of separate phylogenetic line of running hyraxes had appeared – subfamiliy Dromohyracinae in Hyracidae family. These animals gradually passed from burrowing habit of life to existence in plain district. After great split of Africa the part of species of this group had remained on continent and evolved to giant species. And the species isolated at the East-African subcontinent, had changed much less. At Zinj Land representatives of this basal group of hyraxes had remained.
In forests growing on plains and in foothills one of such species of running hyraxes lives. Its distinctive feature is a presence of pair of short horn-like outgrowths on head; because of this feature the animal has received the name forest horned cony. This is a pig-sized ground mammal: it weighs about 50 kg at body length up to 70 cm. Legs of animal are longer, rather than at common hyraxes of Holocene epoch, and forest horned cony is able to run quickly. Hand and foot are digitigrade. Despite of massive constitution, animal dexterously jumps over high plank-buttress roots of tropical trees, escaping from chasing of predators, and is able to change direction of run sharply. By habit of life it resembles caviomorph rodents of South America like agouti or paca very much. This animal lacks tail appreciable from outside.
Bones of upper part of skull of forest horned cony are thickened and form a kind of helmet. On nose bridge of animal two conic horns directed upwards and forward grow; these structures are covered with dense cornificated hairless skin. Both males and females have them, and their application is various: at males horns serve for courtship tournaments and establishment of domination out of breeding season, and representatives of both genders also use horns for digging holes and protection against enemies. The attacked horned cony, not having an opportunity to escape in flight, attacks on predator, and strikes impacts by head, ramming the aggressor. Small eyes are slightly shifted downwards and protected by edges of bone “helmet”.
Colouring of wool is dark brown with white spots on sides of head and on stomach. Male and female do not differ in colouring. The cub does not have white spots.
Forest horned cony lives in family groups consisting of large male, several females of various ages and their cubs. Shelter for family of animals is the hole about half meter wide and over ten meters long, directing under ground to almost three-meter depth. In hole there is well equipped inhabited chamber covered by vegetative material, some temporary toilet holes where animals leave dung and urine, masking their presence, and 2 – 3 carefully disguised emergency exits.
These animals do not have seasonal prevalence in breeding, and in family group always there are cubs of various ages. Pregnancy lasts till about three months. The female gives rise to 3 – 4 well advanced cubs born with opened eyes. They become sexually mature at the age of about two years.
At Zinj Land close species of horned conies live:
Mountain horned cony (Ceratohyrax crassipygus) lives in mountain areas of Zinj Land, preferring dry bushy districts and thickets of grasses. It is larger, rather than forest horned cony, because it lives in cooler climate with expressed daily and seasonal fluctuations of temperatures. At cold snap this species runs to not deep dormation. In warm season when food is plentiful, on buttocks of mountain horned cony thick layer of fat is accumulated; it is used in winter time. Colouring of wool at this animal is lighter, than at forest species – straw-coloured with grayish shade on back, hips and waist. Horns on skull are thicker and shorter, than at forest species. With their help animal can pick out from the ground stones during the hole digging. This species settles in pairs, but does not avoid presence of congeners.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Dwarf horned cony (Ceratohyrax minimus) inhabits high-mountainous meadows of Zinj Land. It is a marmot-sized species weighting no more than 6 kgs. It has short horn-looking outgrowths of skull, and rich wool has dark, almost black color without marks both at adult individuals, and at cubs. This animal is able to climb and jump on rocks, searching for grassy plants. In summer dwarf horned cony also accumulates fat which is depositing on buttocks and hips. In conditions of high mountains at downturn of temperature it runs into deep dormation which lasts not less than 3 months. At this time animal uses the saved up fat stocks.

Sluggish ventrohyrax, “Zinj sloth” (Ventrohyrax bradipus)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Ashkokos, or Climbing Damans (Ascendohyracidae)

Habitat: tropical woods of Zinj Land.

Picture by Timothy Morris

In epochs of climatic changes some types of vegetative communities may completely disappear, dooming to extinction the significant part of species connected to them. But at restoration of acceptable conditions of inhabiting settling of again formed community can proceed by two ways. In one case it is occupied with descendants of relic species had escaped in few “refuges” where the former vegetation had kept. In other cases new habitats are accustomed by the species earlier not dwelt here. It had taken place, for example, at the East African subcontinent (Zinj Land) where in tropical rainforests the original analogue of sloth descending from one local group of animals had appeared.
For Zinj Land the special family of climbing damans, not meeting in continental Africa, is typical. Its characteristic representative is ashkoko (Ashkoko sylvaticus) - animal similar by constitution to loris - Asian prosimians of Holocene epoch. But this animal is not so specialized to tree-climbing habit of life, as ventrohyrax – another animal living in the neighbourhood.
The name “ventrohyrax” means “a stomach of daman” and emphasizes characteristic position of this animal – upwards a stomach. Ventrohyrax hangs under the branch similarly to South-American sloths, for what it had received another name – “Zinj sloth”.
In connection to unusual way of life in anatomy of ventrohyrax there is a number of interesting features. Paws of animal are adapted to clinging to branches – they are rather long, and the structure of hand and foot differs in prominent features. Hand and foot of animal are lengthened (their length is about one third of general length of the extremity), along their bottom side strong sinews stretch, which are attached to strong muscles. For attaching of muscles on paws bones of ventrohyrax crests giving to bones fantastical appearance are advanced. Fingers of ventrohyrax are very long and tenacious – animal clings by them to branches, because claws became very small even at damans – far ancestors of these animals. On forepaw two fingers are kept (only 2-nd and 3-rd, and other ones, 1-st and 4-th fingers are reduced and do not touch to branch), on hinder leg all three toes are kept. Fingers and toes are bent like hooks; skin on palms and feet is naked, covered with cross plicas and callouses. Due to this adaptation animal easily moves even on prickly branches. At grabbing of branch muscles automatically contract, and very strong capture is formed: even the died animal remains hanging on branch, yet will the decomposition of corpse begins. Muscles of extremities of ventrohyrax have unusual dark red color: they contain many myoglobin – the substance accumulating oxygen, therefore they can work any time in “automatic mode”.
Ventrohyrax spends all life among branches, and extremely seldom goes down to the ground. On the ground this animal is very clumsy: ventrohyrax bases on back surface of hooked fingers of forepaws and external lateral surface of foot (ends of toes are turned under the body). The animal walks on the ground slowly, and as soon as possible tries to find a tree suitable to life to appear again in world habitual for itself.
The neck of ventrohyrax is very mobile; due to it animal can eat leaves around of itself, staying at one place. Muzzle of animal is short and wide; molars are tuberculous with wide masticatory surface. Chewing muscles of animal are well advanced: in case of necessity ventrohyrax can bite out small branches. Ventrohyrax had kept features of dental system characteristic for the daman: in each jaw it has two constantly growing self-sharpening incisors.
Ventrohyrax is covered with shaggy wool – though it lives in tropical climate, it may easily catch a cold. In equatorial area each day rain may fall, and only foliage of trees protects ventrohyrax from it. And in wood canopy strong winds blow frequently. The wool of ventrohyrax is colored brown with darker separate locks, precisely imitating the pattern of wood bark. The wool of animal serves as fine masking. Only it and powerful impacts by claws are its unique protection against predators. Defending itself, animal seizes branch by hinder legs and defends by both front paws.
Though ventrohyrax spends all life on branches in tropical forest canopy, this animal does not make risky and fascinating jumps from tree to tree, and in general it differs in slowness. At such habit of life three-dimensional sight, characteristic for damans, loses the value, but the wide field of view gets much more value for life. Therefore eyes of ventrohyrax look more in sides, than forward.
Ventrohyrax leads rather simple way of life and consequently does not differ in high mental faculties. Its brain is too small, and brain department of skull is lengthened and low.
Though the forest canopy is very productive part of tropical wood, here there is very rigid competition for food resources. In forest canopy a lot of different mammals, consuming various kinds of forage lives. The close relative of ventrohyrax, ashkoko, is omnivorous animal, and other climbing animal, sun flying fox of chiropters order, eats mainly fruits. Ventrohyrax does not compete to them due to the diet: this animal eats exclusively leaves. Being a sluggish animal, not needing for long jumps and fast climbing, and having no big expenses of energy, ventrohyrax eats poorly nutritious and hardly digestive leaves of plants. In such way it avoids a competition for food with other animals. The stomach of this animal is complex and consists of several chambers. In the most voluminous first chamber there is a food fermentation, in which symbiotic bacteria and protozoans help ventrohyrax. Ventrohyrax easily digests even dense leaves of figs, rich in rubber.
This species is social; it keeps in tree crones in groups of one male and several adult females with cubs. The structure of these groups is changeable, and animals are not connected with strong ties of attachment (except for female and growing up cubs). Frequently groups of animals, travelling in forest, unite or break up. Also there are single males joining groups only for pairing.
Two times per one year the female of ventrohyrax gives rise to one cub. It is well developed, covered with wool, with opened eyes. Color of wool at the cub is darker than at female. Till first days of life the cub clings to mother and eats only her milk. Starting approximately from the week age cub of ventrohyrax starts to try vegetative food. At first the female feeds it with slurry of belched and semidigested plants. Young animal receives so necessary gastric microflora. Gradually the cub passes to feed in vegetative forage.
Young ventrohyrax becomes sexual matured approximately at the fourth year of life. Life expectancy of this animal reaches 30 – 35 years.

Embolohyrax (Embolohyrax brontotherioides)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Flathorns (Platyceratheriidae)

Habitat: the north of Africa, Atlas Mountains, Western Europe to the north from the Alpes.

In human epoch large species of mammals got serious harm because of human activity. Hunting and destruction of habitats had resulted in great reduction of their number and variety. The part of large species had died out even within people’s memory, and other species had become extinct soon after people extinction – their small and dispersed at the former area populations appeared invitable in conditions of the changing world meeting a new wave of congelation. In new landscapes of early Neocene the place of missed giants was occupied by new animals. Frequently they are descendants of ones grazed gingerly in shadow of Holocene giants left to the past. Hyraxes were especially successful from this point of view. Their descendants had quickly increased in size and had turned to prevailing group of large herbivores in tropics of Old World. The north of Africa, southwest of Europe, Near East and Hindustan became habitats of large species of this group.
To the north of savannas of Sahara, at the Gibraltar Isthmus and in Southern Europe at the edges of salt swamps and deserts of Mediterranean lowland one species of these animals, huge embolohyrax, lives. It is the close relative of flathorn (Platyceratherium foetidus) from savannas of Africa. Embolohyrax looks like rhinoceros, but has very large size: length of its body is over 4 meters, and growth at a shoulder is up to 170 cm. Weight of such giant may reach 8 – 9 tons. Constitution of this species is massive; limbs are digitigrade, with elastic pad of fatty tissue under fingers and toes. Front and rear limbs are three-fingered (three-toed), and on fingers/toes thick hooves grow. Embolohyrax lives in dry places, but if necessary it easily moves in marshes and is able to swim. This species is remarkable with its great ecological plasticity – embolohyraxes well feel like as in savanna and maquis the Western Europe, as in deciduous forests of the Central Europe and foothills of the Alpes. They equally well consume rigid bushes forming maquis, sapful foliage of undersized trees in hillsides in the Alpes and marsh grasses at water meadows of Central Europe.
This animal has bad sight, but very good hearing and keen sense of smell. Nostrils of embolohyrax are wide and supplied with skin valves. When animal gets in sandstorm or dives, valves close nostrils from sand or water. Wool of embolohyrax is thin and short, and skin of grey color reaches thickness in 4 – 5 cm, especially on shoulders and back of animal.
Like all flathorn relatives, embolohyrax has massive bone horn and very large head. Horn represents the massive bone outgrowth covered with corneous layer, and it stretches along the whole skull. In horn shape at this species the precise sexual dimorphism is expressed. At females horn represents a low bone thickening, the platen stretching along skull. Horn of female is covered with dense skin, and in its forward part, above a nose, there is a small expansion in horizontal plane. Male horn is much more massive and thicker. It is sharply expanded and curved upwards in forward part, from the level of eye-sockets. The forward surface of horn is covered with thick cornificated skin and represents the shock weapon – hence the name meaning “ram hyrax”. The bone tissue of horn is well adapted to endure significant loadings directed front to back; the basis of horn rests against well advanced cross occipital crest. At the end of summer the courtship season begins at embolohyraxes. At this time embolohyrax males establish hierarchical relations, butting each other by horn – it does not cause traumas to them. If struggle does not reveal the strongest one, or the contender behaves too arrogantly, males pass to more aggressive way of relations establishment, and butt each other’s sides by horn. As a result after courtship season males frequently get broken ribs, and at “battle veterans” the most part of ribs has traces of repaired traumas.
On back of embolohyrax there is large musky gland closed by skin valve. In courtship season it secrets oily liquid with sharp musky smell. Smells play the important role in communication and behaviour of these animals. The smell of female secretions raises male aggression, and male secretions serve for marking of territory and females. Leaving odorous marks, male rubs back and waist against stones and tree trunks. Usually mature males lead solitary life, and females gather in herds numbering up to 20 animals. In areas rich in forage males join herds of females and beyond courtship season are very tolerant to each other.
Pregnancy lasts till about 20 months. The cub is born in spring when female has opportunity to feed on vitamin-rich plants. At birth cub weighs about 200 kgs and is covered with appreciablly richer wool, rather than adult animals. It sucks mother’s milk up to two-year-old age, but right at the first autumn of life it tries vegetative food. Sexual maturity at young animal comes at the age of 4 years, and life expectancy reaches 60 years.

Xenondipina (Xenondipina agilis)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Ndipinotheriums (Ndipinotheriidae)

Habitat: marsh forests of Central Africa.

Picture by Tim Morris

In Neocene in territory of Africa to the south of Sahara evolution of hyraxes proceeded actively. These animals have considerably increased in size and have got various specializations. Among descendants of hyraxes animals of ndipinotheres family are remarkable – these are large herbivores, similar to gorilla in constitution. Large ndipinotheriums inhabit mosaic landscape where sites of forest alternate with open area. And xenondipina, the relict of early stage of family evolution lives in continuous tropical forests of Central Africa. As against to typical ndipinotheriums, it is not so large animal capable even to swarm up trees. Body length of xenondipina is about 2 meters. By its constitution it is similar to gorilla – front limbs are elongated, back is appreciablly inclined back, tail is lack absolutely. Hind legs of xenondipina are plantigrade and have three large claws. Forepaws are digitigrade; animal supports on 3-rd and 4-th fingers having little peaked hooves. Mobile 2-nd and 5-th fingers help animal to keep food. This is sluggish, but mobile animal – adult xenondipina is capable to swarm up trees and eats foliage, and if necessary it swims well enough and walks on fenny ground.
Head of this species is lengthened – xenondipina eats soft sapful vegetation for which chewing significant efforts are not required. Animal has rounded mobile ears, larger than ears of ndipinotheriums. Xenondipina has keen hearing and sense of smell, but its sight is bad. In rich forest it is difficult to be guided with the help of sight, and animal is helped more by other senses.
Body colouring of xenondipina is cross-striped: on brown background on shoulders, back and crupper close and thin vertical strips of white color stretch, forming slightly wrong striped pattern imitating spots of light and shadow on tree trunk. On throat of animal there is a white spot which helps animals to distinguish each other.
Xenondipina avoids competition to ground monkeys due to life in swampy habitats with set of fenlands and rivers – this species is especially numerous in Congo basin. Xenondipina eats foliage of trees, and frequently gets on trees to the height up to 10 meters. Also it supplements diet with marsh vegetation and digs out tubers of perennial grasses by forepaws. Frequently xenondipina goes for feeding to glades formed by fallen trees, and eats leaves of large grassy plants appearing at initial stage of forest restoration.
This species eats rough vegetative forage from which it is difficult to take nutrients. Stomach of xenondipina is specialized and two-chambered. Its first section is “fermentive chamber” where symbiotic protozoans and the bacteria, providing initial stages of cellulose digesting, live. In second, ferruterous section of stomach food is processed by digestive juice and the further digestion proceeds in long intestines.
Xenondipina keeps in herds numbering up to 20 individuals – adults males, females and their posterity about the second year of life. Between males the certain hierarchy is established, and dominant male has the right of priority in pairing. But subordinate males also have an opportunity to leave posterity. After 5-month long pregnancy female gives rise to well advanced cub which in one hour after birth is capable to walk, and at monthly age does not concede adult animal in dexterity of tree-climbing. At the second year of life young animals leave parental herd and join groups of animals of the same age, living at the edge of territory of herds of adult individuals. At three-year age xenondipina becomes sexually mature, and life expectancy of this animal makes till 30 years.

Sea ipopo (Behemohyrax littoralis)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Ndipinotheriums (Ndipinotheriidae)

Habitat: Africa, Zinj Land (ocean coast), coast of Tanganyica passage.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In Holocene sea habitats were populated by mammals of three orders: cetaceans, Carnivores (pinnipeds represent not uniform group, but descendants of several branches of land predators) and sirens. First two groups were submitted by carnivorous and planktophagous forms and sirens were sea herbivores. In Cenozoic it also had exist the order of sea ungulates Desmostylia, but it had died out long before the people occurrence. Hunting and reduction of places of inhabiting, caused by human activity, and also climatic changes and “plankton accident” at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene had resulted in complete disappearance of the majority of representatives of these orders. Only separate relic species of “old” orders had remained. But in Neocene mammals had made the second attempt to develop sea habitats – various groups of mammals in different areas of Earth passed to life in sea independently from each other. So, in Europe the flattooth, the species of semi-aquatic boars had appeared. Sirens led the origin from African mammals close to proboscids, and in Neocene the similar situation had repeated again in Africa. Descendants of damans, also related to proboscids, are one of succeeding Neocenic mammals. And among them animals leading semi-aquatic habit of life had appeared.
At coast of Indian Ocean one of representatives of water herbivorous mammals lives. This large animal is the descendant of damans by anatomy, but by ecology it represents the analogue of fossil mammal Desmostylus. It browses in mangrove thickets and at sea shallows, eating leaves of mangrove trees, seaweed and sea grasses. Systematical position of this animal is between flathorns and ndipinotheriums, but by features of anatomy this mammal is closer to the last ones. By size this four-footed animal is larger than rhinoceros, and is externally a little similar to hippopotamus. Because of it there is its name – sea ipopo (“ipopo” is the form of word “hippopotamus” distorted in African languages).
Sea ipopos meet in areas of warm climate, and their distribution in many respects coincides with area of mangrove woods growth. The body of ipopo is covered with short wool, and under skin the layer of fat improving buoyancy is advanced. Tail is absolutely not present at this animal. The wool on body is light grey – it makes the swimming ipopo less appreciable on the background of sea water. On forehead and nose bridge the black wool grows. At swimming animal they are above water, and do not give out this animal to underwater predators. The amount of black wool depends on hormonal level of animal, and it is possible to determine approximately the status of each individual in group by size of black spot - at dominants black “cap” is largest.
Legs of ipopo are rather long (near to it the flathorn looks stumpy) but this animal can not rise on hinder legs (like ndipinotheriums), and moves exclusively on four extremities. Forward legs are little bit longer than back ones, and back is sloping. Feet are wide, adapted to walk on fenny dirt and to row at swimming. Hoofs on toes are flattened, similar to elephant’s ones; under foot the fat pillow softening steps and increasing the area of support develops. Due to such structure of legs ipopos easily browse in mangrove thickets where any predator can not reach. Ipopo swims very well – it lives at all small islands near coasts of Africa and Zinj Land, and separate animals even regularly reach Madagascar though a stable population of ipopos had not appeared on this island.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Head of animal is large, rounded, with short jaws. Eyes are located in forward part of skull. Neck at ipopo is mobile – animal easily feed with branches of mangrove trees. Ears are rounded, mobile and short. The upper lip of ipopo is adapted for browsing of parts of plants: it is flexible and represents small proboscis, as at rhinoceros. The end of lip is slightly forked, permitting this animal to break even thin stalks dexterously. Simultaneously teeth of animal enable it to eat food of other kind – containing the big amount of mineral substances. Incisors in bottom jaw of ipopo are wide, scraping by type. They have deep roots and constantly accrue. Sea ipopo frequently leaves mangrove woods and goes to shallows, where eats seaweed, sea grasses and sedentary animals (in this habit it is the convergention with the European flattooth). Due to universality these animals can live where mangrove trees do not grow – at the rocky shallows overgrown with seaweed.
On back of ipopo there is the specific gland – it is the heritage remained from damans. With its help animals submit each other chemical signals, and dominants mark territory of herd. In mangrove woods they rub backs against low thick branches of trees, and among rocks they prefer to mark stones forming the similarity of eaves under which it is possible to stand.
Sea ipopos wander in herds on coasts, preferring the territories overgrown with mangrove trees. On rocky sites they also live, but each group has extensive territory – some times larger, than in mangrove wood. In herd of ipopos strict matriarchy dominates. Males of this species live one by one or in small groups in boundary territories of female herds. At bare coasts males live one by one and follow herds of females.
Pairing at ipopos occurs at any time of year. Pregnancy lasts about 15 months. In litter there is always one cub. But it is very well advanced, and rises on legs in first some minutes after birth. It is born on the coast; during the cub birth the female is surrounded by neighbours protecting her from possible enemies – at this time they rush even to sea birds. When the cub rises on legs, the female licks it, and some time does not let neighbours to it. After between the female and cub connection was established, other neighbours sniff newborn cub. They as though “accept” it so to the clan, and if necessary protect it in common. Therefore the survival rate of posterity at ipopo is high. But the cub depends on mother for a long time – it leaves her only at the third year of life and then she begins able to bear posterity again. For all life at the ipopo female it may be 4 – 5 cubs. The young animal becomes able to breed at the age of 6 – 7 years.
This species has more primitive relative, reed ipopo (Behemohyrax calamophilus) eating riverbank vegetation in rivers of Africa. It lives in marshland at riverbanks. The basis of food of reed ipopo is made with papyrus and other huge grasses. This is sluggish peaceful animal little bit smaller by size then its sea relative. The skin of ipopo has striped colouring – on light brown background there are vertical dark strips. Due to such colouring animal easily masks in thickets. Tip of muzzle at animals of both genders is white.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

The role of reed ipopo in ecosystems of African rivers is great – these giants, eating papyrus and other plants, preserve rivers from overgrowing. On lighted by them sites of thickets of papyrus soon larger sprouts of this plant appear. Reed ipopo digs out plants from a bottom of river by strong forepaws for what the claw on internal finger of his forepaw is especially strongly advanced. By this claw reed ipopo “ploughs” river bottom, and then eats roots, tubers and sappy stalks of water plants emerged on water surface. As well as the sea neighbour, this is the social animal. But this animal lives in families in which there is a male. Male and main female mark territory by musk secretions of back gland.
Possible, the ancestor of these species lived in rivers and lakes, and then had settled down the current of rivers at first to deltas, and then to the sea coast, having the respective alterations in habits and diet.

Fast hyracolopa (Hyracolopa velocipes)
Order: Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
Family: Running damans (Dromohyracidae)

Habitat: savannas of Northern Africa.

Picture by Tim Morris

Unspecialized species of live creatures are one of main reserves of evolution during mass extinctions. Absence of dependence on any limited resources and the ability to live in various conditions of environment are main “secret weapons” of such species. And anatomical primitiveness, characteristic for similar animals, comprises a potential opportunity for realization of various specializations in aspect of anatomy.
Among African animals damans (Hyracomorpha) were such group: they had represented the order of rather ancient and rather primitive hoofed mammals. In Neocene, after mass extinction, they had formed within the limits of order some groups, differing by habit of life. One group is presented by massive ground tetrapods – flathorns from Northern Africa. The second group specialized to tree-climbing way of life and became analogues of lower primates like lories and lemurs. It is ashkoko (Ashkoko sylvaticus) from Zinj Land, or the East-African subcontinent. Except for them, in mountains of Central Africa, savannas of Northern Africa and mountains of Southern Europe representatives of the third branch of damans – running antelope-like forms, hyracolopas, live. They occupy an ecological niche of small and medium-sized antelopes, partly competing with harelopes of northern origin.
By constitution hyracolopas are similar to typical antelopes, but in closer examination they have some obviously differences. Tail at hyracolopas is not present: it was reduced at their ancestors, damans. Rear legs of these animals are little bit longer than front legs because of what the back of hyracolopas is slightly inclined forward. This is the heritage of their past way of life: obviously, hyracolopas evolved in mountains of Central or Eastern Africa, and such structure of body is typical for animals grazing on hillsides. The structure of legs uindicates these animals are rock-climbers and runners. Extremities of damans were plantigrade, and foot of rear leg had formed similarity of sucker. At hyracolopas such adaptation had disappeared: on back side of rear leg there is only a callous, permitting to sit on stones. Claws had increased and became similar to small hoofs. As against horses and antelopes, hyracolopa supports not only on hoof-like claw, but also on the subungius covered with thick cornificate skin. Lateral toes became small, and touch the ground at movement only a little. On forward leg only two fingers from four, characteristic for daman, remained: second and larger third ones.
Head of hyracolopas is lengthened and low, eye-sockets are shifted in forward part of skull. Brain cavity is low and long, that clearly indicates on – alas! – low intellectual qualities of these animals. But at top of skull small sagittal crest stretches, to which strong chewing muscles attach. In dental system of hyracolopas features, characteristic for ancestors are kept: gnawing type of incisors. The bottom jaw is short and a little bit “lengthened” by two large incisors. With their help hyracolopas can dig out bunches of grass with roots. If necessary incisors turn to fighting weapon: at the attack of small predators hyracolopas can bite strongly.
At hyracolopas there are large eyes providing good sight. At mountain species eyes look forward, rather than in sides: so the three-dimensional sight, which helps to estimate distance before jump, is provided to an animal. Hearing at hyracolopas is good; ears are big, rounded and mobile. Sense of smell is advanced well: nasal cavity is short, but high. Smells play the significant role in life of these animals: on back of hyracolopas there is the specific gland, producing an odorous secret. With its help animals mark territory: for this purpose the hyracolopa rears on back legs, nestles by back to the stone or tree, and rubs against it.
Hyracolopas live in small herds numbering up to 15 - 30 animals. In herd there is no strictly expressed hierarchy, and its structure may strongly vary in due course: the herd may break up, or two herds mix up at one pasture and any time graze together. For night hyracolopas hide in bushes.
All species of this group of herbivores eat grassy plants, but can eat young branches of trees and bushes. The stomach of hyracolopas is complex, three-chambered and similar to stomach of ruminant animals. In forward chamber of stomach the colony of symbiotic protozoans, similar to those at ruminant animals, develops. They help animal to digest rough cellulose. The blind gut is poorly advanced.
All hyracolopas have kept a habit, characteristic for damans: animals leave dung always in the same place. Such behavior has the special role in their life: by smell of dung animals learn about the congeners, not seeing them at all. Some animals, living in one group, leave dung in same place.
Fast hyracolopa leads atypical for this genus way of life: it prefers plain habitats, living in savannas of Northern Africa. This animal reaches height about 60 cm at a shoulder. Wool of this animal is colored grayish-beige color with narrow and dense cross strips on body. On all legs there are white “stockings”.
Head of fast hyracolopa is colored brighter, than body: through eyes and forehead black “band” stretches, which ends wash out on neck; tip of muzzle is white. Such contrast colouring of head helps to warn congeners of danger: the disturbed animal highly lifts head, and even rears, looking over district. And colouring of its head becomes appreciable from afar, serving as an alarm signal for neighbours.
Due to strong rear legs fast hyracolopa can make long jumps, escaping from the enemy: up to six meters in length and two meters in height. Hoof-like claws are wide; therefore animal can walk on fenny ground and swims rather good. Frequently hyracolopas of this species escape from predators in water or in swamp.
The courtship season at all hyracolopas passes roughly: males gather small harems of females, jealously preserving them from each other. Threatening the opponent, they growl and show incisors, having opened mouth widely. If contenders do not concede each other, they can even fight, biting each other in back and nape, and striking impacts by forward legs.
Once a year at the female well advanced independent twin cubs are born. They are able to rise of legs at the first hour of life, and the daily cub does not lag behind mother. The young growth is colored not so bright, as adults: cubs don’t have “mask” and white sites on muzzle. They appear only at the age of about one year. At one and half year age young females become able to breeding. Males grow longer, and mature only up to age of two years.
Other species of hyracolopas live in mountains, and their area is limited to one or several ranges:
Rift hyracolopa (Hyracolopa riftica) lives in mountain woods of Central Africa, where it is the analogue of small antelopes like the duiker. Its growth at a shoulder reaches approximately 40 cm. Wool of this hyracolopa is colored dark brown, almost black color, and only tip of muzzle, throat and chest are white. In mountains where it lives, the weather may be rather cool, and ears of rift hyracolopa are covered from external side with short wool. This animal eats various kinds of vegetation: grass, ferns, tubers and bulbs of plants. It meets in herds numbering up to fifty adult animals.
Wooly-eared hyracolopa (Hyracolopa trichotis) lives even higher, than rift hyracolopa: on open hillsides with poor vegetation. This animal differs in dexterity and quickness: it can clamber on almost steep slopes. The wool of this species is colored brown, and only on throat of the adult male white wool grows. On back in the area of specific gland long wool grows. For protection against cold ears of this species are much shorter, than at relative species, and are covered with long wool from external side. This animal gathers in small groups and carefully marks borders of territory: fodder resources in mountains are poor, and the herd should have rather extensive territory.
Atlas hyracolopa (Hyracolopa atlassica) is the species of savannas and foothills of Atlas Mountains, inhabiting also rocky areas of south-west of Europe. It partly competes with flatland harelopes, eating rigid plants. The body is colored yellow, on back there is black longitudinal strip. On rear legs, and at separate individuals even on front ones, there are black cross strips on white background. Cheeks and throat are white.
Persian hyracolopa (Hyracolopa persica) inhabits mountains of Near East formed instead of Persian Gulf as a result of movement of Arabian lithospheric plate. The area of this species is partly crossed with area of rockloper (Lepotragus nivalis) from the order of hoofed lagomorphs (Ungulagomorpha). But both species do not compete with each other because of life in different habitats. Rockloper prefers dry slopes of mountains, and Persian hyracolopa prefers damper valleys overgrown with bushes. It frequently lives on hillsides overgrown by wood. This species lives in herds numbering 10 – 15 individuals. Colouring of Persian hyracolopa is spotty: general colouring is grey, on sides and groats small black spots are scattered. Forehead and back part of neck are also black. On internal side of forward and rear legs there are sites of white wool.
Alpine hyracolopa (Hyracolopa alpina) inhabits mountains of Southern Europe from Pyrenees to Balkan Mountains along the northern edge of Mediterranean swamps. It is the largest species of genus, reaching the size of domestic goat. It differs from other relatives in long wool with rich underfur that permits this animal to live in high mountains. General colouring of this animal is grey with black longitudinal strip on back and black spots on groats; legs are dark.

Forest tapirotherium (Tapirotherium probosciferus)
Order: Odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyla)
Family: Tapirs (Tapiridae)

Habitat: South America, woods.

Picture by Tim Morris

As the evolution process takes place, the nature had performed original “experiments” in various parts of Earth when in different time, on different continents, but in similar environment live creatures appeared very similar by the anatomy but descending from completely different ancestors. So, in Cenozoic of South America representatives of local hoofed mammals, pyrotheres (Pyrotheria), externally similar to proboscids of Old World and North America had appeared. In Neocene the situation has partly repeated: as the evolution process took place, pigs in Eurasia had got a kind of proboscis permitting them to gather food and to utter various sounds. And in South America evolution of relic perissodactyls tapirs had proceeded. At them the trunk serving for various purposes also was developed. Proboscid descendants of tapirs represent the special genus of these animals – tapirotheriums (Tapirotherium).
The largest representative of genus is forest tapirotherium. This very large animal distinguishes in characteristic appearance. The animal is a little similar to the mastodon: the length of body of forest tapirotherium reaches 4 meters at height at a shoulder over 2 meters and weight up to 3 tons. Back of animal is slightly curved upwards; head is massive. Legs of tapirotherium are thick, with wide feet, each of ends by three hoofs. Under toes of the animal the pillow of elastic gristly tissue impregnated with fat develops. Due to it steps of tapirotherium are silent. Rather big square of support does not make tapirotherium a good runner, but permits it to walk on fenny soil and to swim well. Tapirotheriums live at river banks of northern and central part of South America, sharing habitats with huge local rodent barocavia (Barocavia). But the competition between them is softened because tapirotheriums are active in day time and prefer to feed on land. And barocavias feed on river banks at night. Besides tapirotherium is able to feed with branches from trees inaccessible to huge rodent, and even can rear for a short time to do it. Still tapirotheriums meet in rainforests growing in basin of rivers Amazon and Hyppolite. In rich wood their residence is easy for determining: here there are wide tracks paved in wood.
Forest tapirotherium lives in warm climate; therefore it has very thin and short wool. Animal is colored dark brown color, its head is lighter, and trunk is cross-striped.
The most remarkable feature of tapirotheriums is the long trunk developed from short proboscis of tapir. The length of trunk of tapirotherium exceeds length of skull. Skull of animal is short and high, nasal apertures are shifted back and upwards, similarly to nostrils on skull of the elephant. Trunk of tapirotherium is flexible, and animals can tear pick thin stalks of grass or bush leaflets by it. Also tapirotheriums communicate with the help of trunk: colouring of trunk is distinct from apart, and animals give to each other signals, swinging by trunk, lifting or lowering it. Besides with the help of trunk tapirotheriums utter various sounds: it blows, grumbles and peeps. As against to Holocene elephants and Neocene pigs of Eurasia, tusks at tapirotheriums are abscent.
Also tapirotheriums distinguish from elephants in short ears. But for large animal in hot climate there is a big problem of heat emission. For this purpose at tapirotherium on the bottom part of neck and chest the big plica of skin develops. In hot weather blood vessels penetrating skin dilate, emitting a part of heat.
Tapirotheriums live solitarly or in small herds of 5 – 10 animals. Usually old males keep solitarly at the territory of herd of females with cubs. Young and mature males out of breeding season form “bachelor” herds.
Pregnancy lasts about 15 months. Female gives rise only to one cub, at birth of twins one cub, as a rule, does not survive. The cub stays with mother for a long time: about one year it eats mother’s milk, gradually accustoming to food of adult animals. After transition to vegetative food young females remain in herd till all life, and males up to approximately two-year-old age. After that they leave parental herd and join herd of “bachelor” males. They become sexual mature at the age of 5 years (at females it happens one year earlier). Life expectancy of tapirotherium may reach 60 years.
One more species lives in mountain regions of South America: mountain tapirotherium (Tapirotherium montanicolus). It is smaller species (like usual tapir by size), adapted to inhabiting in cool mountain climate. At it there are rather short legs and lengthened trunk: so it is easier to move in cross-country terrain. Also it does not have plica of skin on neck, characteristic for its large relative, and it is covered with rich wool. This species is colored brighter than forest tapirotherium: at it light longitudinal strips on dark brown woolare kept. It is the display of juvenile colouring. Strips are especially distinct on shoulders and basis of neck, and around of eyes there are big sites of light wool on black background. This animal lives in Andes where prefers to live in mountain valleys. Mountain tapirotherium differs from forest congener in dense constitution, narrower feet and stronger hoofs. Despite of significant weight, this animal is able to climb on rather abrupt slopes though it makes it seldom – usually animals of this species live settled in mountain valleys, and migrate only at lack of forage or because of inclement weather conditions. This animal is very numerous near to Totora Lake on Altiplano Plateau in Andes.
Obviously, the close relative of mountain tapirotherium is Chilean tapirotherium (Tapirotherium chiliensis) – medium-sized animal and rather easy constitution. Chilean tapirotheriums inhabit narrow strip of land between Andes and Pacific coast of South America. These animals live in various habitats: from foothills up to ocean coast. They have long legs and trunk, reach the weight about one ton and can run quickly. At Chilean tapirotherium there are rather small feet and hoofs, and also neck is lengthened. It has grey colouring with longitudinal black strips on groats and back. This species keeps in harems of male (sometimes two males – main and subordinated) and several females with cubs of various ages. Populations living near the ocean frequently come to the coast where animals drink salt water and eat seaweed cast ashore.

Tapiroid (Tapirocephalus velox)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Trunk boars (Proboscichoeridae)
Habitat: bush thrickets of Southern Europe.

Picture by Tim Morris

Picture by Pavel Volkov - the initial image

During global changes in ecosystems unspecialized species able to live in various conditions and to use for food plenty of forage kinds survive basically. During change of Holocene by Neocene among few survived hoofed mammals pigs were such universals and champions in survival. After ice age and extinction of big number of European hoofed mammals pigs were among animals successfully existed in narrow zone of vegetation clutched between glacier of kilometer thickness and heated salty desert of Mediterranean. When glacier had receded pigs among the first wave of migrants had started to develop free territories and later migrants from Asia and Africa were compelled to compete with specialized descendants of wild boar (Sus scrofa).
Boar family had becomed prospering group: among them special family of trunk boars has appeared at which representatives muzzle had turned to short proboscis. This adaptation has given appreciable advantages to its owners having expanded opportunities of food getting. In family even such species started to develop sea coasts had appeared – it is huge flattooth (Belonoporcus dolichocephalus).
As against to massive flattooth tapiroid is terrestrial animal. Length of body of adult animal is about 2 meters, height at a shoulder is 1.7 m. The constitution indicates fast runner in it: at this animal there are muscled body and long legs. It can accelerate momentum up to 40 kms per hour at the long distance and at short time accelerate up to 60 kms per hour. On every leg of tapiroid there are two large hoofs: characteristic for pigs hoofs on 2-nd and 5-th toes are underdeveloped and sometimes are absent at all. In appearance of tapiroid there is a feature making it similar to South-American tapir: massive head with long proboscis. With the help of flexible proboscis tapiroid can browse leaves and young branches of bushes containing basic part of its ration. Neck of tapiroid is rather short but due to proboscis it does not have inconveniences in daily life. Body of animal is covered with rigid thin wool and on back skin is very thick – it is its protection against predators. On tips of long ears there are hairy brushes raising sensory acuity. Eyes at tapiroid are small and sight is rather weak. But sense of smell at it is very keen: due to presence of proboscis the olfactory surface of nasal cavity is strongly increased.
Wool of tapiroid is colored brownish-yellow with dark longitudinal strips on back (such colouring is characteristic for boar piglets). Due to inhabiting in bush thickets this juvenile attribute became very useful to survival.
In mouth of tapiroid sharp tusks directed forward and in sides grow. At males they reach significant size. Males of this species apply tusks to duels, establishing hierarchy or combating for female. During fight opponents simply cling each other by one tusk and try to tumble down the contender by movement of head and body pressure. Dangerous wounds this way are completely excluded though at old males tusks sometimes break. At the predator attack animal uses tusks as thrust weapon causing to predator deep wounds similar to dabber ones.
Tapiroids live in family groups of 15 - 20 uneven-age animals (young growth of the current year makes up about half of group) under the leading of large male. Each group lives in the certain territory on which goes adhering about constant routes. During movement herd treads and eats young growth of bushes, therefore in habitat of these animals through continuous bush thickets wide tracks pass. And the more herd living in certain territory, the wider tracks left by it are. In tracks graminoids grow basically changing by othergrasses at the edge of tracks. It gives food to many other bush inhabitants.
Tapiroids eat leaves and young sprouts of bushes, soft grasses and mushrooms. Because of short neck they can not graze on grass and dig out roots and tubers as their ancestors, but in bushes they find a lot of suitable forage.
At the watering place animals are cautious: they can reach water only having bent forward legs, therefore any part of family group stands on the alert while other animals drink water.
Cubs of tapiroids are born in spring when it is a lot of forage and water. Female gives rise to two - three cubs covered with short wool. By colouring young growth is similar to adult animals, colouring is only brighter appreciably and more contrast. Cub rising occurs almost simultaneously at all females of family group. Cubs spend first days in shelter among bushes, yet they will get stronger enough to move after adult animals. On 3-rd - 4-th day they abandon shelter and herd continues movement.
Females can already rise posterity at two-year-old age, and males though become mature almost simultaneously with females, receive chance to pairing only at the age of four years having developed to full might. Life expectancy at this species is about 25 years.

Nozdrokh (Probosciaper mammutoides)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Trunk boars (Proboscichoeridae)
Habitat: woods of Central and Eastern Europe up to Ural.

Picture by Leonard Popov

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

In Russian annals by the word “nozdrokh” any large animal, most likely mammoth meant, whose frozen carcasses occasionally had been founded by people, derivating every possible legends. Therefore the large animal of Neocene epoch, rather reminiscent by the constitution proboscides missed a long time ago, is named so.
The extinction of large animals caused by chasing from the side of people, destruction of places of inhabiting and natural accidents, has released a way for evolution of groups of animals, not numerous and not variable before it, having allowed them to realize to the full the evolutionary potential. Among such “lucky beggars” of Neocene epoch non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals appeared. In North America dominant large animals peccasons from peccary family (Tayassuidae) appeared. But in Old World pigs (Suidae) have reached of the big success: among them ecological analogues of such various hoofed mammals, as horses, bulls, hippopotamuses, tapirs, and even proboscides have appeared.
Nozdrokh, the inhabitant of woods of Europe, is a huge descendant of the wild boar, whose growth at a shoulder reaches 2 meters. It differs in heavy addition and thick legs. Head of nozdrokh is rather big. Well-known tusks, the main weapon of boar, at this species had started to increase, resembling tusks of mammoth: they are bent upwards by half rings. It is convenient to rake by such tusks a wood litter in searches of roots and acorns. And in winter with the help of tusks nozdrokh easily scatters snow, reaching up to a last year's grass. Jaws of animal are rather short and strong, in case of necessity it can feed even with young branches of trees and bark which it peels out by tusks. As against to proboscides, at nozdrokhs the “conveyor” of replacing teeth is not formed.
Snout characteristic for pigs at ancestors of nozdrokh started to grow in length, and became short, but flexible high-grade trunk. Due to it the animal can lift even a small acorn from the ground. Inside the trunk there are some pairs of plicas of epithelium. They serve as original additional “vocal chords”, expanding a spectrum of sounds uttering by the nozdrokh - from the trumpet roar similar to elephant’s voice, up to silent chirp and squeak.
Ears of nozdrokh are short – it lives in rather cool climate, and problem of overheat do not arise at it. The animal is covered with a shaggy rough wool of brown color. To winter at it the rich underfur grows, permitting to endure rigorous frosts.
In ecosystem of woods of Europe nozdrokh partly occupies an ecological niche of large wood hoofed mammals – aurochs and urus. It mainly eats leaves of trees and bushes, adding to them fern rhizomes, tubers and bulbs of various plants. In summer nozdrokhs willingly feed near reservoirs, pulling out by tusks whole bushes of reed. Near reservoirs nozdrokhs spend the hottest days of summer. Due to wide feet they easily cross bogs, and frequently come to bogs to wallow in dirt and to cool.
This animal keeps in small herds (up to 5 - 6 animals) under the leading of adult male. It does not tolerate competitors, and expels young males from herd when they become independent (at the age of approximately 2 years). Except for him, in herd there are 2 - 3 sexual matured females and other individuals are young growth. Young males expelled from family groups, form barchelor groups of 2 - 4 animals. They more tolerantly concern to each other until will get own harem. Animals in group constantly communicate with each other with the help of various sound signals – this way of communication is especially good in rich wood where animals frequently lose sight of each other.
Female every time gives rise to one cub once per 2 years. It feeds exclusively with her milk, but in case of danger can expect for protection of any of females of herd. The cub is born rather weak. It is covered with longitudinal strips – this is the type of juvenile colouring, characteristic for pigs. First two days of its life all herd stays at the place, preserving it and expecting while it will start to walk and will get stronger enough. Gradually strips on its back become dimmer and disappear to bi-monthly age. Sexual maturity comes at the age of approximately 20 months, and life expectancy may account about 40 years.

Porceratella (Porceratella bovina)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Horned hogs (Porceratidae)
Habitat: tropical woods and marshlands of Zinj Land.

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov
Picture colorization made by Odin

Mass extinction of the majority of groups of hoofed mammals at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene became mainly the result of human activity. Only most unpretentious and ecologically plastic species have managed to survive, having kept as small populations. After disappearance of mankind they have started to fill in released ecological niches.
The geography of planet in Neocene epoch has changed, though it has remained rather recognizeable. From Africa along the “seam” of Great Rift Valley the large land site had “broken away” – Zinj Land. And here one of species of hoofed mammals, river hog (or bush pig) (Potamochoerus porcus), had turned to the interesting creature similar to bulls of Holocene epoch.
The river hog had small bone knobs before eyes. Evolution had picked up and had developed this “idea”, and the descendant of river hog, porceratella, had acquired a pair of sharp horns directed forward and a little in sides. It is interesting, that at the continent descendants of bush pigs either have lost rudiments of horns completely or have acquired one large unpaired horn similar to horn of brontotheres. All these animals belong to the separate family of horned hogs (Porceratidae).
Osseous horns of porceratella are precisely separated from each other, and resemble horns of bovids. They are filled with friable bone tissue lowering their weight, but their top layer is enough strong and they could be used as the tournament weapon, and for protection against predators.
Externally porceratella resembles small cow with back curved upwards. Height of animal at a shoulder is about one and half meters, weight of the male is about 500 kg, female up to 400 kg. The wool is short, rather thin, brightly colored: back is rusty-red, sides are white and the bottom part of body is black. The area under tail is covered with white wool. Behind on hips between sites of white and red color there passes a black strip. Wool on throat is also black. Around of eyes there are small white “glasses” (sometimes they may be absent), on tips of ears there are rich black hairy brushes. The tail is covered with rich white wool, its tip is black.
The nose has turned to small mobile proboscis, shorter, than at saiga or tapir. Characteristic for pigs ossifications in snout are reduced and the animal can not dig out by it something from the ground, but can pick up edible parts of plants. Due to proboscis the animal can utter various blares. Also the big surface of nasal ducts promotes development of sharp sense of smell. Sight plays smaller role in life of porceratella: the bases of horns form protective “eyebrows” which prevent it to see object that is directly ahead: to make it, the animal raises head a little.
On the top jaw there are sharp tusks directed forward and in sides. With their help the animal digs ground in searches of food. In the case necessity porceratella can put deep wounds by these tusks.
Hoofs can move apart, due to what porceratella is able to walk along fenny marsh ground. Besides it does not avoid water: it willingly swims, feeds with water plants, and searches in water for protection against ground predators.
Porceratella keeps in herds numbering 15 - 20 ones. Over the herd is predominated by the female, and other members of herd are also females. Males keep in herd only while depend on mother. The leader female expels become adult males. Males form barchelor groups of 5 - 6 animals in which the not strict hierarchy is observed. But in season of pairing (in the middle of rain season) they become aggressive, and can even kill each other in tournament fights.
The posterity is born in the beginning of dry season, when there is no danger of flooding of forests. In litter there are usually two cubs, at young females only one cub is born. At the age of approximately three months at young animal horns start to grow, and half year old males are already compelled to lead independent life. They completely develop and become able to breeding at the age of 2 – 2.5 years.

Bikifaru (Dilophoporcula rhinocerotoides)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Horned hogs (Porceratidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, light forests and bush thickets in the north part of subcontinent.

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Artiodactyl mammals in Holocene turned to favourite objects of people hunting. Human activity has resulted to strong reducing of the number of various gregarious animals (mainly bovids), and the majority of species of these animals had disappeared. Only few relic species kept in Asia and South Africa. The place of small swift-footed antelopes in Neocene was occupied by various animals of new groups: harelopes of lagomorph group and hyracolopas, running descendants of damans. And the place of larger herbivores – rhinoceroses and buffaloes – representatives of other groups of mammals, various descendants of damans, had shared. At the East-African subcontinent named Zinj Land, large descendants of damans are represented only by one semi-aquatic species. At the subcontinent the large descendants of pigs occupied ecological niches of ruminant animals had appeared. One of the most widespread species is bikifaru, large species of horned descendants of pigs.
This animal is larger relative of porceratella, which leads migrating way of life and differs in rather graceful constitution. This is stout cow-sized animal, also similar to cows by proportions. At the short distance bikifaru can accelerate momentum up to 50 kms per hour, but it can not support such rate for a long time. Hoofs of this animal can move apart - bikifaru frequently feed on juicy marsh vegetation at the fenny ground. Also this animal is not afraid of water and is able to swim well.
Wool of animal, living in hot climate, is rough, short, sandy-yellow colored. On back and hips there are some dim darker spots. The tail of animal is long – with its help grazing bikifaru drives off blood-sucking insects. On tail there is big black-and-white brush of long hair. Using it the animal submits signals to congeners: the tail with hairy brush lifted upwards, well seen from apart, is the alarm signal, clear not only for bikifarus, but also to their neighbours.
Neck is moderately long; head is rather small. But the structure of head of animal has determined its name. “Kifaru” in suachili means “rhinoceros”, and “bi …” means “double” in Greek. On head of this animal not horns, as at porceratella, but two longitudinal bone crests grow. These outgrowths are too thin to be used for combat, and serve more for demonstration. Also they help to move apart prickly branches of bushes among which bikifaru lives and feeds, and protect eyes from damages. Crests are semicircular; on nape they stick back like two horns. These crests are covered with thick rough skin and short wool, and frequently grow very large – at old males the size of crests can be almost equal to the seen sideview of head. Crests of males have a border of black wool on edge, and due to it are appreciable from apart. At females on crests there are only separate black spots, and at young animals colouring of crests is the same, as at all body. The width of black border depends on level of testosterone, and this feature helps males to estimate force of each other, not entering combat. Females also prefer to couple to males, at which there is more of black wool on crests. Also at males at edges of crests knobby osseous outgrowths develop. At males the small tusks, inflexed and turned in sides, also are advanced. This is the weapon for demonstration, but the defending animal can strike a predator by lateral movement of head. At females tusks are smaller and are visible only when the animal opens mouth.
Lips of bikifaru are mobile, and the muzzle is extended to small proboscis. Inflating proboscis and contracting nostrils, animal can utter various sounds. In bushes where visibility can be very bad, this animal communicates with congeners almost exclusively with the help of sounds.
Bikifaru is strict vegetarian; it eats leaves of bushes and branches of young trees. Jaws of this animal are rather weak; therefore the animal does not eat rigid grass. Due to the structure of hoofs bikifaru can graze in bogs, where it eats leaves of huge grasses and gathers floating plants from surface of water.
This species lives the herds numbering up to 20 – 30 adult animals. The herd is ruled by large male which constantly keeps up observance of hierarchy. Between males there is rather rigid struggle for leadership: the dominant male can couple to the majority of females of herd. Males standing a rank below the leader also have opportunity to have posterity, especially in big herd. The old animals, not able to support by force the place in hierarchy, quickly fall to the bottom step of hierarchy of herd and only the young animals recently becoming independent can be lower than they are. Old males usually keep in back part of herd, and fall victims of predators the first.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of bikifaru is not present. The female ready to pairing involves at once many males which arrange combat for the right to couple with her. Pregnancy lasts about eight months and is finished by birth of one or two cubs (twins are born in third of cases). The cub is born advanced and can walk at once. It differs from adults in absence of longitudinal crests on muzzle. Its colouring is brighter, rather than at adults – on sides of young animal there are black spots, merging to faltering longitudinal strips. At growing animal they grow pale and vanish on the most part of body. At the animals living in richer bushes and light forests in south of area, at the border of rainforests, spots are kept to all life. These animals, larger than northern ones, are classified as the subspecies Dilophoporcula rhinocerotoides maculata.

Brontothere hornhog (Porceras brontotherioides)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Horned hogs (Porceratidae)
Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa, dry sites, foothills.

Picture by Tim Morris

Picture by Pavel Volkov - the initial image

Presence of small bone outgrowths before eyes at bush pigs (Potamochoerus porcus) looks insignificant attribute at first sight. But evolution had picked up this attribute, and it has received the development at descendants of these animals: at them on head large bone outgrowths of various shapes have appeared. So on life arena the family of non-ruminant artiodactyls, horned hogs (Porceratidae), has appeared. At the representatives of this family living at the Eastern African microcontinent, there is the pair of horns a little bit similar to horns of bovids. And at inhabitants of continental Africa on the head mainly unpaired outgrowths were developed, making these animals little bit similar to rhinoceroses extinct at the end of Holocene and brontotheres dyed out to end of Paleogene. In continental Africa these animals are spreaded mainly to the south from zone of tropical woods, in damp savanna and mountains of Southern Africa.
The brontothere hornhog is one of the most typical representatives of the family, widely widespread in rather dry habitats. By constitution it is similar to bull (growth at a shoulder is up to one and half meters), but its head strikingly differs from bull’s one. It is larger, with rudimentary proboscis developed from characteristic snout of pigs. The most remarkable feature is the presence of huge osseous horn. It is formed by pulled and grown together pair bone knobs characteristic for ancestor. The horn rises perpendicularly to forehead; it is expanded in sides and partly doubled at top. It is rather demonstration, than fighting weapon. But with the help of strong cervical muscles the brontothere hornhog can hook by horn the attacking predator and reject it aside. During intraspecific tournaments males of this species butt, having inclined a head aside, and resting by bases of horns. But usually they avoid direct fight, and only show horns to each other. At females horns are shorter, than at males.
Wool of this animal is very short. On chin hair are a little bit lengthened. The horn is hairless, covered with cornificate skin. The basic colouring of body is light grey, only on nape lengthened black hair form similarity of mane, and on long tail there is black hairy brush.
In mouth there are two long incisors similar to teeth of fossil rhinoceros Chilotherium: animal uses them to dig out roots and tubers. Also during courtship duels the animal can put to the opponent stings. Jaws of brontothere hornhog are long and rather weak. The basic food of animal includes young grass and leaves of bushes.
The brontothere hornhog is able to run quickly and long – at it legs are rather long. In this connection hoofs of this animal are small – this way friction against the ground is less. But it imposes the certain difficulties: the animal is compelled to avoid fenny areas, and comes into water only in case of emergency. Animals avoid places where there are flooding. Differing in ability to predict weather, they leave lowland areas to which flooding may threaten, and migrate to foothills. At this time separate family groups may unite, and then between males fights happen.
This species keep in small herds (up to ten adult animals), each of which represents a harem of one male. Animals communicate with each other by means of various sounds uttering with the help of short proboscis (at this moment it is slightly puffed). The young growth keeps with parents before independence then males are expelled by the leader, and females – by adult females. Seasonal prevalence in breeding is expressed poorly, but the majority of cubs is born in the beginning of rain season. In litter there is always one cub.

Bullhog (Buchoerus crassoceras)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Horned hogs (Porceratidae)
Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa, damp sites near to rivers and bogs.

Picture by Tim Morris

Picture by Pavel Volkov - the initial image

When during evolution process in nature a “successful” variation of live beings appears, on its basis related forms adapted to different conditions of inhabiting at once start to evolve. In Southern Africa at the basis of the common ancestor different species belonging to new Neocenic family of horned hogs were evolved. These animals have partly replaced large ruminant artiodactyl animals, not sustained chasing from the side of people and destruction of habitats during a catastrophic congelation. Hornhogs became analogues of buffaloes, large antelopes, and partly even rhinoceroses. Bullhog is the largest representative of family.
This species of mammals differs from brontothere hornhog by more powerful addition: the animal is very similar to large buffalo. The highest point of the body is at shoulders, back is a little bit sloping. Wool is short, pale-yellow, and lighter on stomach. On cheekbones wool forms black “whiskers” especially obviously expressed at males. Legs, partly shoulders and groats of animal are covered with short horizontal strips of rusty wool. Tail is long, with hairy brush on the tip.
The most characteristic attribute of animals of horned hog family is the horns of various shapes developing in middle part of head. At bullhog, despite of the name, horn it is completely not similar to bull horns: it is wide and flat, reminiscenting somewhat the horn of living in North-African savannas flathorn (Platyceratherium foetidus), huge animal from order of damans (Procaviiformes). It is wide, covered with cornificate skin, and concave in middle part. The horn of bullhog is mainly the tournament weapon, rather than fighting one: in courtship season between males of this species there is a force struggle by necks (muscles of neck are very strong). Horns serve as protective “helmet”: they are formed by thick layer of bone tissue with a minimum quantity of cavities. But also this horn may be used as the weapon: to attacking predator protecting bullhog puts ramming impact by head. The horn protects eyes from casual wounds, therefore, having “hooked” predator by flat horn, bullhog can lift it in air, and then simply strike a predator against tree or throw off far.
As against the relative, the brontothere hornhog, bullhog prefers sites which may be flooded. This animal willingly bathes and wallows in dirt, and also searches near to reservoirs for significant part of food – soft vegetation. In this connection at bullhog the wide hoofs able to move apart partly, when the animal grazes at the bog, were developed. Also the animal is able to swim very well, and easily crosses even wide rivers and lakes.
Bullhogs keep in small harems: one male and 3 - 4 females with cubs of the age till one year. Such harem occupies the certain territory along the river bank, or in bogs, and does not leave it even at flooding. Except for such families, there are single males living at the narrow border lands between possessions of family males. Usually they are either very old males expelled by young contenders from own groups, or young males, yet not having own harem. In courtship season young animals challenge family males, and between them there are skirmishes.
Once a year the female gives rise to 1 – 2 cubs. They differ from adults by darker colouring in which there are more strips (they stretch even on back and sides). The female carefully preserves them against predators, and easily may attack any animal if it will seem that the invader represents threat for the cub. The young growth is fed with milk till four months, and then completely passes to vegetative forage. One-year-old youngsters abandon herd: shortly before birth of the new cub the female starts to show aggression to them.
Sexual maturity comes at the age of about 3 years, life expectancy may account till 40 years.

Hyena-like deinaper (Deinaper crocutoides)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Predatory boars (Carnoporcidae)
Habitat: grass plains and bush thickets of Central and East Asia.

Pictured by Eugeny Hontor
Colorization by Alexander Smyslov

Early image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

In Paleogene and early Neogene among characteristic inhabitants of open spaces of Eurasia and North America there were entelodons (Entelodontidae) – family of non-ruminant artiodactyls, related to pigs. By structure of teeth, they were omnivores in which diet meat took an essential place. After epoch of mass extinction when many ecological niches appeared free, pigs have taken advantage of a situation, and have taken a vacant place of scavengers. So at plains and in bush of Asia the family of Predatory boars partly occupied a place of hyaenas and bears had appeared.
The typical representative of this family is deinaper (“deino-“ means “terrible”, and “aper” – the boar), the largest species in family. An ancestor of this animal was wild boar (Sus scrofa), the species widely widespread in Eurasia and have successfully survived the period of anthropogenous pressure. The important place in diet of boar was occupied with food of animal origin. One of the evolutionary lines, originated from this species, has gone to the way of adaptation to searching and eating larger amount of food of animal origin. Gradually these animals have turned to scavengers, and even had become able to attack cubs of other animals.
Deinaper is an animal of massive constitution, its growth at a shoulder is about 0.8 m and weight is up to 140 kg. By constitution it is similar to the spotted hyena: at it there is large head on mobile neck. Its body is covered with shaggy rough wool; to winter rich underfur grows. In connection with unusual for hoofed mammals way of life at it spotty colouring developed – strips characteristic for boar juvenile colouring, break up to separate spots. It even more strengthens similarity of deinaper with hyenas. Legs of animal are rather long, adapted to fast running to the big distances. Because of long legs the body seems a little bit short.
Jaw are short and high, able to crush bones. There are large sharp tusks jutting out up and in sides. They are used as the weapon in tournament fights, but in case of need deinaper can use them against predators.
The appearance of muzzle of deinaper is characteristic for pigs. Sense of smell is sharp - with its help animal searches for carrion and finds small animals. Deinaper is aggressive: it can drive away medium-sized predators from catch, threatening them with tusks and making sharp attacks on aside a predator. As this animal lives small groups (up to 4 – 6 adult animals), not any predator can defend the right to the catch in the face of several strong and aggressively adjusted animals.
The group of deinapers supervises extensive territory on which there are some shelters. Borders of territory are marked by heaps of manure, and constantly renewed. In shelters animals spend hottest time of day, becoming more active in the morning and in the evening when the majority of predators hunts. If won over catch at predators does not suffice, deinapers can hunt in the afternoon. Then they attack small animals having a rest in a shadow.
Once per year the female brings posterity: up to 5 – 6 cubs. Feeding female does not take part in hunting, protecting posterity. The only thing, that it presumes to herself – to catch any tiny casual catch like reptiles and rodents. But males and females without cubs after successful hunting necessarily belch for feeding female pieces of meat. Newborn cubs are weak and helpless: they start to stand only at the age of one week, and pass to feeding by meat only at bi-monthly age. Approximately at the age of three months young animals leave lair, and lead nomadic life with parental group. Only at the second year of life the young female can give posterity the first time. And the young male can really apply for domination in clan only since the fourth year of life. Up to this time it leads life of the lonely hunter in boundary territories, gaining strength and experience to challenge once in winter to any old leader of clan and to take his place.

(This animal is discovered in common: by Tenek, the participant of forum (she has stated the assumption of existence of the present animal in Neocenic fauna), and by Arseny Zolotnikov (he created initial sketch of the present animal))

Varaha (Barodeinaper waraha)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Predatory boars (Carnoporcidae)

Habitat: Southern and South-East Asia, Hindustan; forests of various types and bush.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Pig family is among champions on survival. These animals, easily growing wild and easily adapting to various conditions, used in full degree possibilities on development of new habitats opened after human disappearance. In due course of evolution the North of Eurasia was occupied by trunk boars, and in Africa and on Zinj Land horned forms of pigs evolved. For Asia the special family of predatory boars is endemic – it is a peculiar attempt of pigs to become carnivores as entelodons did in Tertiary. In temperate areas of Asia the hyena-like deinaper (Deinaper crocutoides) is widespread – it is the carnivorous species being ecological analog of hyenas. To the south of the Himalayas it is replaced by varaha, the species of close genus.
Compared to deinaper varaha is larger species adapted for life in rainforest. Its growth at a shoulder is about one and a half meters, body length to 2 meters, weight is about 400 kg. Varaha has powerful jaws and extended wedge-shaped muzzle which ended with the small snout. Skull bones are quite massive – in case of need varaha strikes to competitors blows with a forehead. Tusks of animal are well developed and inflexed, but are turned sideways only a little, therefore they don’t hamper the movement of the animal through dense underbrush. The main purpose of tusks is to be the duel weapon. During courtship season males hook the contender by tusks and try to tumble down each other, using strong muscles of neck and shoulders. Wide ears are used for heatreturn though in daytime heat varaha more often simply searches for a reservoir where it has a rest during the hottest time of day. On neck and shoulders of animal the standing bristly mane is developed similar to mane of wild horses and creating the illusion of larger size, than is in fact.
Skin on neck and shoulders of varaha is very thick and strong – even a large predator hardly bites through it. For attaching of the muscles supporting the head, at this animal spinous processes on cervical and chest vertebrae are well developed. Because of it the back of an animal is sloping a little.
Legs of varaha are short, but strong, with two well developed hooves on 3rd and 4th toes. The 2nd and 5th toes are underdeveloped, and their hooves are appreciable as two small bumps on each side of fore- and hind legs of animal.
Unlike the spotty northern relative, varaha has longitudinally striped coloring. The main background of coloring is reddish-brown, on the back narrow longitudinal strips of black color stretch. Coloring of the top part of head of this animal sharply contrasts with body color – it is black with two large white spots under eyes. This coloring has obvious warning character – varaha has aggressive temper and can easily rush on the competitor, driving it away from food. Lower part of head is brown, and mane is black.
Varaha eats mainly food of animal origin. This animal often eats carrion and searches for it, using keen sense of smell. Also varaha attacks small animals, which are trampled or biten to death, and then eats them entirely. If necessary, varaha can win away prey at predators – it attacks and tries to bite a predator or to hook it by tusks. Due to skin “armour” and strong skull it easily endures blows of predators and more often defeats them, forcing them out from prey or to wait, while varaha will be sated. Bumps on teeth of animal have sharp tops and cutting edges.
Varaha female gives birth once a year to three cubs. Piglets spend first two weeks of life in den built in secluded place, and then leave it and lead nomadic life, keeping near mother. At the age of about 5 months between them the competition becomes aggravated and they start to lead independent life. The sexual maturity at them comes at the age of 2 years, but males receive real possibility to take part in reproduction not earlier than at the age of 4 years. Life expectancy reaches 30 years.

Translated by Alexander Smyslov.

Armor-headed wart hog (Geophacochoerus subterraneus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Pigs (Suidae)

Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa.

Picture by Amplion

Ancestor of present species is usual in Holocene African wart hog (Phacochoerus). These hoofed mammals spend significant part of day in holes dug independently. And its descendant has finished this habit of life to extreme being shown on ground surface only at night. This animal spends day in shelters – wide holes at times directed downwards to two meters depth and stretch under ground to tens meters. In connection with such original habit of life the shape of animal had strongly changed.
The armor-headed wart hog reaches height only 40 cm at a shoulder. But its body is very much extended – almost meter longwise not including tail. About 20 % of body length the head turned to tunneling mashine amounts. At this animal there are large, slightly bent tusks sticking up forward and in sides – this animal digs and deepens holes, at feeding on surface overturns stones in searches of insect larvae and digs out plant tubers and rhizomes by them. At the top part of head thick layer of cornificate skin protecting head from casual fallings in holes is advanced. Tip of muzzle with “snout” characteristic for pigs is very mobile that partly compensates hindrances created by tusks at feeding. Nostrils of animal are closing during digging. Nasal courses are rather short but the olfactory surface forms numerous plicas: at armor-headed wart hog it is very sharp sense of smell. Sight of animal is rather weak; eyes are protected from ground by dense eyelashes. Ears are small; at digging they fold lengthways and nestle to sides of head. On cheekbones the large bone outgrowths especially advanced at males stick up.
Body is long and legs are short. On forward legs in front, and on back ones under hock there are calloused outgrowths serving as a support at ground digging (animal digs a hole standing “on knees”). Hooves are wide; at digging they are used for shoveling up the dug ground. Hairs on body are submitted by short thin bristle, “mane” on back characteristic for wart hog is not present. Skin is wrinkled and grayish-black. At the tip of long tail there is brush of white hair: tail is used for communication and signal submission.
Armor-headed wart hogs live in groups: dominant male, female and cubs of current litter (up to 5 cubs 2 times per one year are born). At new litter birthing at the female grown up young animals are driven out. The family of animals lives in constant territory which is jealously preserved against neighbours. At the territory usually there is a main hole and plenty of temporary refuges well known to all family of hogs. In due course holes are extending, sometimes systems of holes join to each other. At exhaustion of food sources around of main hole the family moves (at night or dawn) to other hole, somewhere to the edge of territory. Gradually the centre of territory is actually displaced here that inevitably results to revision of borders between neighbours.
In each hole there is a main chamber where the female with posterity lives, and “throne hall” where the dominant male lives. They are located opposite to each other and between them main burrow with two exits (one of which is disguised outside by dust) passes through. On each side of this pass animals dig out temporary toilet chambers leaving dung there. After filling the chamber is filling up by ground and simultaneously the new chamber is making. This way animals hide their presence from predators.
In holes of armor-headed wart hogs a plenty of “lodgers” settles: butterflies, crickets, numerous fleas (they parasitize in thin wool on throat and stomach of animal). Among vertebrates large tortoises and lizards (hogs simply can to have eaten small reptiles) and also birds and small mammals settle in holes. For protection against parasites wart hogs willingly take dust baths sometimes arranging place for bathing right in heap of ground thrown out from hole.
Family of armor-headed wart hogs goes for feeding at night. At first male appears from hole; he looks, listens and smells around determining whether there is no danger. If all is quiet he walks out and after him female and cubs appear. At night animals go to watering place (if the water source is far some burrows to it are dug allowing to not show itself to superfluous danger at the watering place) and then feed on meadow or under trees. The basic forage of armor-headed wart hogs is grass. But in trees and bushes fructification season they willingly eat drop fruits and berries. Animals willingly eat forage of animal origin: worms and beetle larvae gathering them at hole digging, searching under stones or in rotten wood. Differing in keen sense of smell such pig easily feels presence of larva under thin layer of wood and if it is necessary splits mouldering tree by sharp tusk. If it is possible to find carrion or remains of predator’s catch animals willingly feed with meat.
During feeding armor-headed wart hogs communicate wagging with white hairy brush on the tail tip. Their voices at this time are similar to usual pork grunt. Tail sharply lifted upwards is an alarm signal: having seen such mark animals cease eating and start to smell around trying to find out predator. In case of danger animals squealing shrilly rush to nearest hole trying to keep near it at all. These pigs are fast and maneuverable runners though they can not run long on short legs. At deviation male climbs to the hole at last having turned to predator by head. He loudly roars trying to frighten predator and from time to time makes aggressive lunges trying to strike attacking predator by tusk. Usually after that only a little number of wishing to continue chasing ones may be founded.
Maturity at females comes at two-year-old age, at males little bit later. Young females at the second year of life pair the first time and approximately after three and half months give rise to posterity. The first litter is insignificant: no more than three pigs and usually only two ones. But at the fourth year of life in litter it may be up to five pigs.
Young growth abandons parents shortly before birth of next cubs or right after it. Youngsters first time keep in parental territory using for life old holes - at them tusks are still insufficiently grown. But when the young growth new litter grows up, the dominant male, their daddy, expels all of them from territory. At this time young animals perish in a plenty from predators. But ones managed to find suitable place for life, have an every prospect to live up to old age: the age limit of these animals reaches 15 years.

Crimean pygmy boar (Neosus tauricus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Pigs (Suidae)

Habitat: Crimea Island in Fourseas, landscapes of various types.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

During late Cenozoic pigs had proved their evolutionary success, having settled on to all Eurasia and Africa. In human epoch they have had the minimal losses: areas of widespread species had been reduced, and some endemic species and subspecies have died out. But after disappearance of mankind they have quickly returned to initial positions. Large ruminants were strongly exterminated by people, therefore pigs have taken advantage of the situation formed in biosphere, and have evolved some new families becoming analogues of large ruminants in certain degree. Representatives of the initial branch of pigs, true pigs, also were kept in Neocene due to their universality and abilities to adaptation.
During the formation of Fourseas Crimea had turned to island. There the rests of local fauna which evolved in isolation during several millions years were kept. Prominent feature of local species is so called island dwarfism – very small size in comparison to continental species. One characteristic local species is Crimean pygmy boar, the descendant of Holocene wild boar (Sus scrofa), widely settled and successful species of ungulates. Appearance of this animal is characteristic and recognizeable. Crimean pygmy boar has shape characteristic for pigs, with more flexible snout, rather than its ancestors, resembling early stages of evolution of snout of trunk boars. Length of its body is about 60 cm at growth less than half meter at a shoulder. At this species there are rather long legs permitting to run quickly and to swarm up rocks. Colouring is skewbald – usually head and legs are colored lighter than body, but extreme variants exist: almost entirely black colouring with white legs and almost white one with dark longitudinal strip on back. This species is adapted to life in rocky landscape: it swarms up mountains excellently, and is strong and hardy. This pig can run on narrow rocky eaves and clamber on slopes. By nature this wild boar is very cautious and has good hearing and sight.
This is a gregarious animal; Crimean pygmy boar moves in small herds numbering 10 – 15 ones ruled by the most skilled and strong male. In places most frequently visited by them tracks are well appreciable, and if the track stretches through bushes, among thickets the tunnel on which animals move one by one is formed.
Having kept an omnivorousity characteristic for pigs, it eats animal food – reptiles, rodents, insects, worms, bird eggs – much more often, than its ancestors. At an opportunity this animal willingly eats carrion. But as it grows the diet passes to herbivory, and the oldest individuals frequently leave in marshy sites of island with plain relief and soft vegetation. Usually beyond the breeding season males of Crimean pygmy boar are tolerant to each other.
Heat happens in December – January, but even that time male skirmishes seldom are out of limits of simple display: males rise wool growing on back and nape, scatter ground by hooves and stamp legs. Pregnancy lasts till about 90 days. The female, as a rule, gives rise to two pigs of the same gender – it is connected to limitation of habitats of this animal. Cubs are born in reliable lair: usually in a cave in rocks or in specially dug holes if caves are not present. The same holes and caves are used by years and pass from generation to generation. Pigs are born striped, but as they grow their colouring changes: strips vanish, or, on the contrary, extend. Depending on genetic features colouring of adult animals varies in great degree. Young animals are fed with milk till 1 – 1.5 month; at this time the female lives separately from herd and leads very secretive life. After the young growth will get stronger enough, female bring cubs to the common herd. Females become independent at the age of 8 – 8.5 months, males – at 11 – 11.5 months. The sexual maturity comes in 2 years, and then young males are frequently expelled from herd by the leader. Representatives of this species live up to 37 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Nick, the forum member.

Great Porkoceros (Ceratodens babiroussoides)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Pigs (Suidae)

Habitat: Lowland rainforest and swamp forest of northern Meganesia
During the Holocene, the continent of Australia had suffered heavily from introduced animals of all kinds. Due to the harsh nature of the climate, most hoofed animals have disappeared as the neocene progressed. Sheep were too poorly adapted to the deserts, and too reliant on man, for example. The camels, practically pre-disposed to an arid existence, proliferated and came to dominate the dryer part of Meganesia. The other exception are the feral pigs, versatile and adaptable, they evolved to Meganesian equivalent of rhinoceros, the Great Porkoceros. This creature is a browser of low growth in the extensive rainforest and swamp forest of northern Meganesia, much like the Holocene forest rhinoceros.
This animal is built similarly to a rhinoceros, attaining 1500-2000 kilograms. The animal has an extensive barrel-chest and a bulging stomach which possesses an extensive gut. Unlike its predecessor, it subsists entirely on plant matter.
Its limbs are sturdy, but thinner compared to those of a rhinoceros. Broad hooves spread the animal’s weight in soft or swampy ground. The shoulders come to a distinct hump, which serves to support its thick neck and tremendous head.
Head of this animal is large and deep, with a broad snout compared to the body, and has large flaring cheek bosses which serve as protection during combat. The upper tusks of its ancestor have become the analogue of a rhinoceros horn. The cylindrical upper tusks project through the top of the snout, like those of a babiroussa, except that they project upward in the manner of 2 large horns, the tusks of the female are smaller and more slender. The lower tusks are strongly reduced. The animal is mostly hairless, possessing a thick, leathery hide of chocolate colour. Hairs only persist on the tail tuft, ear tufts and along the neck. The cartilaginous nasal cap is reduced and sits under the skin, while the lip extends outward in a small proboscis like that of a rhinoceros.
The face and sides of this animal are covered in heavy, wart-covered calluses. These are to protect the animal from serious injury during combat with one another.
As it browses, the Porkoceros clears distinct trails in the undergrowth; these trails are also used by other forest dwelling animals, which browse on the regenerated growth that emerges after the animal has passed. The Yagil and the Marsuipial panther are able to attack this beast, but they prefer to catch the more vulnerable juveniles, which have less-developed tusks and dermal thickening. This animal is predominantly solitary, only coming together to mate and to compete for mates. Rutting and breeding season takes place at the height of the dry season, allowing the females to raise the young in a safe, dry nest.
The female gives birth to 3 or 4 young at a time, and suckles them in a large shelter made from branches and lined with soft bedding. The newborn piglets possess lengthwise light stripes on a dark background. When the males compete for females, they display their tusks as a stag would his antlers, rasing their heads and showing them side-on. When in combat they make blows to the body and face with their tusks, and push against each other with their shoulders, in an attempt to exhaust one another. Great Porkoceros have a lifespan of up to 40 years; males that reach old age often have partly broken tusks and large scars from fighting.
Smaller relative Lesser Porkoceros (Ceratodens hirsutus), reaches only 150 kg, and is covered in light brown hair, which forms a crest along its back, which is lighter. It only possesses medium-sized protruding upper-tusks, which cross over each other; lower tusks are present and quite large. It mainly inhabits the dryer central scrub and grassland, where it feeds on herbage and shrubs, and some small amounts of softer grass. It prefers to shelter in large areas of scrubland, where it is able to hide more easily. The Marsuipial Panther frequently preys on this animal. Lifespan of up to 35 years, but usually much shorter.

This species of mammals was discovered by Timothy Donald Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Yesin (Yesin bengalensis)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Shevrotains (Tragulidae)

Habitat: coast of bay of Bengal and Jakarta Coast, mangrove forests.

Picture by Tim Morris

In human epoch people of Myanma (Burma) believed in existence of tiny aquatic elephant. They named it as “yesin” and attributed to it some unusual properties: poisonous bite and mystical power above common elephants. In opinion of some cryptozoologists, the real animal was behind a myth. But, unfortunately, the mankind had died out, not having found out the truth.
Neocene yesin, the unusual representative of shevrotains, a family of primitive artiodactyls, is named after this mythical character. As well as mythical yesin, it resembles tiny elephant a little, leads semi-aquatic way of life and lives also in territory of former Myanma.
Appearance of yesin is rather original: in constitution this animal is vaguely similar to tapir, but is much smaller than it is, and is built not so heavy. Yesin reaches 130 cm in length; its height at a shoulder is about 60 cm and weight is about 40 kg. The muzzle of yesin is extended as a proboscis used at diving as a respiratory tube. Both at males and at females from the upper jaw impressive canines grow: at males they reach the length of 15, at females – of 10 cm. These canines not only allow to dig silt and sand in searches of food, but also serve as a weapon. Yesin it is capable to wound seriously any animal attacked it, and males use canines for courtship tournaments. Ears of yesin are of medium size, rounded and mobile. At diving they can fold along the head and nestle against it closely. As the adaptation to aquatic way of life the special structure of hoofs serves: they are wide and have a membrane between them, and allow the owner to swim and to walk on fenny ground perfectly.
The animal is covered with short wool of chocolate-brown color with light yellow “apron” on throat and breast. The lower side of short tail is white – it is a mark which the female uses for communication with cubs. Cubs have masking albesent strips and spots on body.
Yesin is secretive animal leading mainly twilight way of life. This animal spends daytime in dream among rich roots of mangrove trees. It repulses possible enemies with the help of advanced canines, but quite often seeks safety in flight, diving and hiding under water for a long time.
Yesin is omnivorous, but prefers food of animal origin. The basis of its diet is made of seafood – fish, crabs and molluscs which it catches in water or digs out of sand and silt during outflow. Also this animal digs clutches of reptiles at sandy coast and ravages bird nests made on the ground. Also it does not disdain carrion. The small part of yesin food is made with vegetative food: algae and fallen fruits.
Only for the pairing period these animals, usually not tolerating the presence of relatives, meet each other: males arrange tournaments, fighting for females. Usually these tournaments pass without blood and are limited to display actions. Males inflate proboscis and puff air out through densely closed nostrils, uttering high squeak. Thus they open mouth wide and show canines to the contender. If rivalry becomes especially sharp, contenders attack against each other and strike each other by lateral impacts of head. Thus canines only slightly touch skin of contender. Biting the contender, yesin male only bites its skin by forward teeth. But protecting itself from predator, yesin sticks points of canines into skin of enemy.
The female gives rise to one, and in rare cases to two cubs depending on mother until they will reach the age of 6 months. The female brings posterity not more than once per year. Young animals become sexually mature at the age of two years; life expectancy in nature does not exceed 30 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Deersimil (Cervops platycornis)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: False deer (Neocervidae)

Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa.
After extinction of significant part of large hoofed mammals their place was occupied with representatives of other groups of mammals: in Palearctic there are large running descendants of lagomorphs, and in Nearctic and Neotropic areas – descendants of South-American rodents. Only south of Africa appeared rather isolated from the Sahara savanna by woods and mountains. Here again species of herbivorus mammals have remained relicts of Holocene dominant: various hoofed mammals, descendants of small antelopes and chevrotains.
Occupying ecological niches exempted after mass extinction they turned to species similar to well-known in human epoch antelopes and deer. At some species even big horns have appeared – it is a rarity among Neocenic herbivores.
The deersimil is not the most numerous species among South-African hoofed mammals. It keeps in small herds sometimes together with other species of herbivores. This animal is the descendant of small and short-legged African chevrotains (Tragulus). Having remained out of competition from the side of bovines chevrotains roughly have started to evolve having formed the separate family of false deer – rather large swift-footed hoofed mammals.
In comparison with ancestors deersimil is a sizable animal: its growth at a shoulder is up to 1.5 m, body length is up to 1.6 m. By constitution it resembles small antelopes and gazelles. This is one of most swift-footed hoofed mammals of Neocene: at short distances deersimil accelerates momentum up to 80 kms per hour. Because of long legs usual pace of this animal is an amble but deersimil develops maximal speed running gallop.
Colouring of deersimil helps it to hide among vegetation: body is covered with chestnut-brown wool; on groats and hips there are thin vertical strips of yellow color. Stomach, bottom part of neck and head sides are white. Cubs are colored lighter: the basic colouring at them is straw-colour with longitudinal brown strips on body (by colouring they are similar to boar piglets); on groats and hips strips are bent downwards. In process of growth striped pattern on the body vanishes and on hips becomes more contrast.
This animal has horns on head. But as against deer horns deersimil horns are constantly growing (not dropping as at deer), shovel-like and with several jags (“antlers”). These horns are a little similar to horns of African prehistoric giraffes Sivatherium. Bases of horns are enough strong and extended along of skull; horns grow on head of animal in parallel to each other. Horns of females resemble more longitudinal crests with two jags at back edge. At males horns are larger and it can be up to 5 - 7 jags on them; horn tops at males slightly inclinate in sides. New jags appear on forward part of horn: at old males horns are sometimes similar to rooster crest. Similarly to deer deersimil uses horns as the tournament weapon - opponents approach to each other so that horn jags get in dredgings on contender’s horns. At the duel basically a power struggle takes place – contenders try to push aside and tumble down each other.
From senses at deersimil hearing and sense of smell are most sharply advanced. Other herbivores use it watching for behaviour of these animals for detection of probable danger. In case of alarm the deersimil utters special shout - sharp whistle warning of neighbours and other animals grazed near about danger. Rescuing from predator deersimil hopes for the speed in many respects - few predators can catch up adult animal full of forces. Even two-day cubs are already almost equal in speed to adults though, certainly, they get tired much faster.
Deersimil eats mainly graminoids. Grazing animal bites off only their tops; after feeding of this animal other species of herbivores can find enough food at the same place to themselves. Especially deersimil likes cones of graminoids in condition of wax ripeness: thus some graminoids differ in sweetish taste. Usually deersimil feeds during dawn and sunset and spends hottest time of day in tree shadow.
For protection from overheat deersimil uses the original adaptation – its own horns. As against deer horns they are always combined by alive growing bone. Outside of breeding season skin on horns is plentifully penetrated with blood vessels serving as fine radiator: blood emits heat to air. But in breeding season because of hormonal influence blood vessels in basis of horns are narrowed and substantially block stream of blood to horns that protects males from blood loss at casual wounds.
Breeding season at deersimils begins at the end of rain season. Between males there are short skirmishes for “harem” of several females (depending on physical condition male can declare rights to 4 – 10 females). Opponents usually avoid to enter direct fight and all can be limited to demonstration of force: males bellow bassy, dig ground by hoof, widely open mouthes and show teeth. Sometimes they rear and showing to each other the might make some steps on rear legs. Usually one of contenders leaves stadium without fight.
Time of pairing proceeds only about one week and then aggression of males is reduced also they become tolerant concerning to each other again feeding sometimes side by side.
After dry season female gives rise to one or two cubs (about half of females fawns twins). As at all hoofed mammals cub is born advanced and in some hours it is capable to follow mother. First two months it feeds by milk but from fortnight age it already tries plants copying mother. To the end of rain season it becomes independent, but stays in herd. Sexual maturity at females comes at the age of one and half years, at males at two years.

Sunhorn deer (Heliocervus heliocornis)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Deer (Cervidae)

Habitat: eastern part of North America, light forest and bushes in plain and foothill areass of Appalachian Mountains.

Picture by Meh

Till whole human epoch, since prehistoric times, deer were traditional object of hunting. Chasing of these animals had resulted in their preservation only in few places of their former area. In Northern hemisphere these places represented remote northern grounds, Siberia in Eurasia and area of Rocky Mountains in North America. After the ending of human epoch some small deer species preserved in forests of Southeast Asia. These animals became ancestors of new species of deer of Neocene epoch.
North American deer are descendants of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) – one of the most usual species of the family at this continent. One of descendants of this species is magnificent sunhorn deer. It is medium-sized deer – adult male weighs about 100 kg, female is much smaller. For this one gracile constitution is typical – this deer is able to run quickly. Sunhorn deer lives in light forest areas where bushes alternate with sites overgrown with grass. The basis of ration of this animal is made of leaves of bushes and low trees and also of rather soft grasses not belonging to graminoids.
The body of sunhorn deer is covered with wool of bright yellow color; dark longitudinal strip stretches from the nape up to the basis of tail. Occasionally at separate individuals in adult condition attributes of juvenile colouring keep – white spots on shoulders and hips. Stomach at females is white. At males colouring of stomach is quite another – it is white with numerous black spots. This colouring is used by males for display in courtship season. The bottom part of tail at individuals of both genders is white. Vertically rised tail making seen a wrong side appreciable from apart is the traditional alarm signal at deer.
Deer are an excellent example of action of sexual selection. Various species of these animals during the history of this group developed horns of various sizes and shapes. Extreme degrees of expression of consequences of action of this kind of selection are fossil deer Megaloceras with huge horns and Eucladoceras on which fan-shaped horns more than ten antlers developed. Sunhorn deer had actually repeated an evolutionary way of fossil deer Eucladoceras – its horns have completely lost function of the tournament weapon, and have turned to object of courtship display. The shape of horns of this deer has determined its name. Horns of sunhorn deer have set of antlers which grow practically in one plane. In the basis of such horn there is wide semicircular “shovel” as at the elk, but turned vertically. On its edge numerous straight antlers grow, because of what both horns of this deer create the impression of stylized solar disk with beams. At adult males it may be up to 8 – 11 and even more antlers on each horn. In courtship season males avoid combat, being limited to displaying of horns. Females of this species are polled; it is typical condition for all deer, except for odd-looking skewhorn from Greenland.
Within summer season males of sunhorn deer concern to each other tolerantly and even form barchelor herds numbering up to 20 individuals. The courtship season begins in the middle of an autumn. At this time horns completely ossificate, the rests of skin fall down from them, and deer males become aggressive. Males of this species gather at “stadia”. They display themselves to contenders, rearing. Keeping balance, male can make too many steps in vertical position. Thus spotty colouring of its belly becomes especially good seen. Usually males compete; they try to keep longer a vertical position – this way the strongest one is revealing among them. If rivalry is critical, males can pass to active struggle against contenders: they push each other by chest, trying to tumble the contender down. Occasionally they strike impacts to each other with the help of forelegs.
The winner male gathers a harem of 5 – 8 females and within several days repeatedly couples with them. He furiously rushes to every one, in which it sees the contender (even to animals of other species), and during the courtship season eats almost of nothing. To the end of courtship season male is strongly exhausted, and some males even perish, including from a nervous exhaustion. In winter males mew horns.
Pregnancy lasts about half-year, and cubs (usually twins) are born in spring. Juvenile colouring of sunhorn deer is spotty: cub is darker, than adult individual, and on brownish background of its wool white spots are scattered forming faltering longitudinal strips on back and sides.
To an autumn young deer leaves mother, and at this time she is ready to new pairing. At the second year of life young females take part in breeding season the first time. Males can take part in courtship tournament only since the fifth year of life. For the second year they grow primal small horns which have few antlers and no “shovel”. Each new year of life horns become larger, and at five years get the shape characteristic for horns of adult animal.

Maned spirocervus (Spirocervus jubatus)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Deer (Cervidae)

Habitat: Himalayas, mountain forests.
In human epoch the majority of large animals had been exterminated as a result of hunting, or their areas and number had been strongly reduced because of destruction of habitats. As a result after human disappearance the majority of large animals had died out, not having left descendants. Their place was occupied by large descendants of more successfully survived small species of animals.
Asia was the most densety populated continent of human epoch. This circumstance became the reason of practically general degradation of natural ecosystems and extinction of large animals. But in Neocene this continent appeared populated by large animals again. One of such species is the descendant of small barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) which lives in Himalayas. This animal is equal to large deer of human epoch in size (height at a shoulder up to 120 sm, weight over 150 kg) and is the approximate analogue of bezoar goat of human epoch. Similarity is strengthened even more by the shape of horns of this deer – they have no characteristic branchy shape and are mostly straight with spirally twirled edges. This feature has determined the name of animal – spirocervus (literally “spiral deer”).
Spirocervus has robust constitution; its rear legs are little bit longer than front ones, and back is inclined forward. It is the prominent feature of herbivores living on hillsides – it is easier so to graze. Also at spirocervus there are strong hooves behind which the elastic small pad is located. Hooves can easily move apart. Due to such features of structure of legs the animal is able to move on abrupt stony slopes though prefers to live in mountain forests.
The high mountains differ in rather cold climate. The alternating of seasons is clearly expressed here, and it is cold weather till the significant part of year. Spirocervus is adapted to such features of mountain climate. The thickset constitution reduces a relative surface of its body. Brown colored wool of this animal is long and rich. In cold months it becomes thick, but does not change color, as at snowlopper from the number of hoofed lagomorphs, living higher. On breast and neck of spirocervus males long mane grows, and tail is ended with magnificent switch of white color.
Head of spirocervus has odd appearance. On head of this animal two longitudinal bone crests from nostrils up to the bases of horns grow – it is a characteristic attribute of barking deer descendants, including massive bulldeer of China swamplands. At the female bone crests are less expressed, and horns are lack. And horns of the male have very unusual shape. They consist of two antlers – the basic one growing upwards, and lateral one directed aside and outside. The basic antler is straight; at the adult male it reaches the length 70 – 80 cm. It is three-edged in cross-section and is slightly twirled spirally. Lateral antler is short, thick and hook-like. It serves for fixing horns at courtship tournaments.
Bone crests pass to bases of horns. They are covered with long wool of yellowish-brown color at males and grey at females. At males wool on bases of horns is so long, that it seems the continuation of mane.
Spirocervus precisely differentiates habitats with snowlopper. It avoids places where snow lays till the most part of year, and does not meet higher in mountains where the snowlopper lives. Usually spirocervuses keep in herds of 10 – 15 animals – females and young animals of both genders under leadership of the adult male. Sometimes in large herd it may be two adult males. These deer live in mountain forests and feed on leaves of bushes and low trees. In winter when leaves fall from most part of plants and forage reserve of animals is reduced, spirocervuses may eat leaves of evergreen rhododendrons which they usually do not touch in summer.
In the beginning of an autumn the courtship season begins. At this time males roar loudly, declaring rights to territory and females. Bachelor males (usually these ones are young animals) challenge males, interfering to their territory and roaring. Between competing males there are severe duels for harem. They are reduced to force struggle of animals linked by horns. Lateral antlers on horns serve as terminators, not allowing animals to injure each other; therefore males usually go through this time without damage.
Pregnancy at the female lasts about half-year, and she gives rise only to one well advanced cub. Such tactics is more favourable in conditions of limited resources. Cubs of spirocervus differ from adults in dark, almost black colouring, with several small white spots on throat. In the course of time they brighten, and the wool changes shade to brown color. To winter the young animal becomes almost independent. Females are ready to breeding at the third year of life. At males at the second year of life simple forked horns with almost equal basic and lateral antlers grow. Next years horns change the shape, in brief repeating an evolutionary way of ancestors of this animal – vertical antler becomes longer, and lateral one grows thick.
Life expectancy makes about 40 years.

White-headed rapidocervus (Rapidocervus albocephalus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Deer (Cervidae)

Habitat: plains of North America – prairies and semideserts.
In human epoch in North America isolated populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were kept. In epoch of Holocene – Neocene congelation they lived in foothills of Rocky Mountains, in areas of humid enough climate, but far from edge of glacier. These populations became ancestral stock for deer of Neocene epoch, inhabiting North America.
Among American deer of Neocene epoch a special genus evolved, which representatives live in open area and have ability to very fast running. These animals are rapidocervuses, original analogues of pronghorns of Holocene epoch.
Rapidocervuses represent the small genus of deer including the forms living in open areas – from grassy plains up to semideserts. These animals are remarkable in their gracile constitution and long legs with strong hooves. Rapidocervuses are high animals (over 1.5 m at a shoulder) and have long neck. Head at these animals is short, and jaws are strong, adapted to feeding on rigid grassy vegetation. Eye-sockets are shifted upwards and are placed at small bony eminences formed also by antler pedicles.
Similarly to all deer species, rapidocervuses shed antlers every year. Antlers of these deer are poorly branched, and because of it animals look like gazelles or antelopes from apart. Usually antlers of adult male have no more than three branches. The main branch of antler is directed back; antlers have lyre-like shape with tips slightly bent in sides. The second large branch grows from the basis of antler and is directed forward, and on the basic branch there is one small branch directed upwards and inside. Females of rapidocervus species are hornless.
Typical species of group is white-headed rapidocervus living in western part of Great Plains, in dry area located in “rain shadow” of Rocky Mountains. It is a large species of genus; growth of adult male at a shoulder is about 160 cm. Female is smaller compared to male – it typical for all species of rapidocervus. At white-headed rapidocervus head is almost entirely white, except for top of head and nape. White color also is stretched to sides and forward part of neck, breast and stomach. Nape, back part of neck, shoulders, back, hips and crupper of animal are yellowish-brown; tail from above is black, and white from underside.
White-headed rapidocervuses live in plains in herds numbering up to 50 ones. They avoid thickets of bushes and trees, and any obstacles for run. Being frightened by predators, white-headed rapidocervuses, and also other large species are capable to accelerate momentum about 70 kms per hour, and small ones – up to 80 kms per hour on short distance. Rapidocervuses do not compete to deermaras, cursorial rodents of South American origin, due to difference in habitats – rapidocervuses are steadier against cold, live in northern areas and live in deserted regions to the west from plains. Besides they eat more rigid grasses uneatable for these rodents.
In rapidocervus herd there are approximately fifty-fifty males and females of various ages. The hierarchy in herd is well expressed – large male is a leader of herd. At meeting of two herds males try to establish leadership, rearing and striking each other impacts by front legs. Heat at this species takes place in the beginning of winter months, and the posterity is born in early spring. At white-headed rapidocervus female gives rise to one fawn, but approximately 20 % of females give birth to twins. Calf has spotty colouring, as at deer in human epoch. At change of colouring in places where there where white spots at adult animal, spots of juvenile colouring start growing and merge with each other. On one-colour sites of body they gradually decrease in size and vanish. At not sexually mature individuals head is dark, and only throat and tip of muzzle are white.
In territory of North America some close species of rapidocervuses live:
Grassland, or striped rapidocervus (Rapidocervus zebratus) – medium-sized species: growth of male at a shoulder is about 120 cm. At this species antlers have only two branches. The basic branch of antler is directed back and upwards a little, and on one third of its length, measuring from the antler basis, the second stag branches at small corner to the main one and reaches about the same lengths. Shoulders at this species are little bit higher then crupper, and neck is rather short. Colouring of grassland rapidocervus is very rare for deer: on yellowish-brown background dark narrow vertical strips stretch, being especially dense on back part of the body and on neck. Lower side of tail is white.
It is the most “water-loving” species of this genus: it lives in well humidified plains in eastern part of area of these deer, but keeps in the distance from bushes and trees. For this deer run by jumps up to five meters long is characteristic.
Crowned, or short horned rapidocervus (Rapidocervus coronatus) inhabits dry areas of Mexican plateau. It is the large representative of genus: growth at a shoulder of male reaches 140 – 150 cm. This species differs in colouring of head appreciable from apart: from upper lip through an eye up to the basis of ear wide black strip stretches; it is present at individuals of both genders. Below this strip the narrow white strip lasts. The basic colouring of body is monophonous sand-yellow with darker strip along the back; stomach is bright yellow. Antlers of this deer are rather short and carry three branches directed accordingly back, sideways and forward. All branches approximately one length and their ends are slightly inflexed, because of what pair horns is remote is similar to a crown. The bases of antlers are strongly expanded and covered with large corneous lumps – “pearls”.
For improvement of heat emitting at crowned rapidocervus the plica of thin skin on breast is developed, and ears of this species are rather larger, than at related species. This species has interesting behavioural feature – it is able to receive water from cactuses, breaking stalks of these plants by hoof.

Picture by Fanboyphilosopher

Badland, or donkey-eared rapidocervus (Rapidocervus asellinus) is the smallest species of genus: height of adult male at a shoulder is about 60 cm. This species lives in droughty “badlands” kept along Rocky Mountains ridges. The gracile constitution and plica of skin on breast help to radiate the superfluous heat. But more effective bodies of heat emitting are auricles. They are long, narrow and mobile as at hare, and their tissue is plentifully penetrated with blood vessels.
Antlers at badland rapidocervus are advanced rather poorly. They have only two branches – larger one is directed back, and shorter one, sometimes having doubled top, is pointed forward. In constitution this species is very similar to gazelle. At this species lips are covered with dense skin: it is an adaptation for feeding on cactuses. Badland rapidocervus eats prickly pears covered with tiny hair-like prickles and because of it inedible for other herbivores, except for insects. Eating round stalks of cactuses, or simply looking around, this deer can stand on rear legs for a long time, supporting against any firm subject, or without a support at all. In diet of this species there are also dry grass and insects. In spring these deer willingly eat even poisonous tubers and bulbs.
Colouring of wool of this deer is monotonous yellowish-brown. As an element facilitating the recognizing of congeners at these deer there is only black tail with fluffy white inside.
For badland rapidocervus the low requirement for water is characteristic. It receives water from cactuses and excretes very concentrated urine containing small amount of water.

Bald rambull (Pachycephalovis grandis)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Himalayas, Plateau of Tibet, Altai; mountain woods and meadows at height up to 4 – 5 thousand meters; in the north of area animal goes down, but does not meet in plain regions.
At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene the variety of ungulates had sharply reduced. The reason of it had been mainly human activity/ People had overpopulated the planet and had destroyed habitats of many species. Agrarian landscapes changed by people, where herds of domestic cattle were analogues of wild animals, became the prevailing landscapes in many places of the Earth. After human extinction the majority of domestic animals had also disappeared, but some species able to adaptation, had survived and became ancestors of new forms of Neocene ungulates. Among them there were primitive breeds of domestic sheeps which easily ran wild and became a part of poor communities formed at the place of collapsing agrocenoses. Many descendants of domestic sheeps live in Neocene New Zealand, but separate species had evolved in other parts of the world.
In mountain areas of Asia large artiodactyl – bald rambull is found. Height of this animal at a shoulders is up to 170 cm at body length of about 2,5 m. Externally it is similar to golden goat antelope (Budorcas taxicolor), the original representative of bovids, related to sheeps, lived at the territory of China. The body of rambull is covered with rich shaggy wool of gray-blue color, on back the longitudinal strip of darker wool stretches; the tail is covered with long wool and is similar to horse’s one. Ears are moderately long and covered from external side with wool.
As against New Zealand sheep descendants, bald rambull has almost completely lost horns. Instead of it the upper part of skull at this animal is strongly thickened. The skull of male has the convex top representing a continuous bone outgrowth about 15 cm thick. Males use skull for courtship tournaments during which they put each other strong ramming impacts. Thus the massive cover of skull protects brain of animal from concussion. On top of the head of animal the skin is dense, thick, strongly cornificated, colored dark grey, completely lack of hairs. Near ears of animal there are outgrowths hided in wool, also covered with cornificated tissue – they are rudiments of horns. Females lack of them more often. Also at females the top of skull is not as convex, as at males, and they do not use it for fierce tournaments. Only occasionally females strike each other easy impacts by head, reminding the subordinated individual about their own position in herd hierarchy. Cervical vertebrae are adapted to maintain the sizeable loadings.
The thick ossificated top occupies the most part of volume of skull. The brain of bald rambull is very small, and the behaviour of animal differs in primitiveness. Weakness of sight is compensated, however, by keen hearing and sense of smell, and also by natural care. Animals move across their territory along strictly determined routes, and only natural acts like avalanches or earthquakes force them to search for new ways. This species of ungulates lives in small herds including one dominant male, several females and their cubs of the age of up to two – three years. In herd the not strict hierarchy is established.
Bald rambull eats leaves of undersized trees and bushes. At lack of habitual forage it can eat even branches of coniferous trees. Also the animal is able to dig snow in searches of grass and evergreen bushes. This species lives in conditions of seasonal climate – winter in habitats of bald rambull is frosty and snowy. Therefore right before colds it grows long rich wool of lighter color, rather than summer one.
Pregnancy lasts 11 months; usually the female gives rise to one cub. In favorable years twins are often born – one case to approximately 8 – 10 pregnant females. Cubs are fed on very fat milk and quickly grow. At the age of about 8 months the young animal completely passes to forage of adult animals. At young animals approximately up to one-year-old age the head is covered with wool, as at other representatives of family. At the age of four years animals completely develop physically, and females already can bring posterity. Young male reaches the blossoming of physical strengths to the seventh year of life, and supports this physical condition at least till 15 years.

New Zealand orovis (Orovis austro-alpinus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: mountains of New Zealand from wood zone up to Alpine meadows.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

New Zealand during millions years had remained “the lost world” even more forgotten rather than South America of Paleogene and Neogene epochs. There were no even mammal species there except for pinnipeds for which ocean open spaces are not a barrier and bats have arrived to these islands by air. People have thoughtlessly “enriched” unique fauna of islands with various species of domestic and exotic mammal and birds. Thus catastrophic damage was put to local fauna.
After human disappearance on Earth New Zealand has remained in any measure to the “lost world” condition separated from other world by Pacific Ocean. Animals belonging to groups dyed out or fairly degrading in “big world” had kept here. So, when number of hoofed mammals on continents had reduced, in New Zealand one of their species had roughly evolved. Pacific Ocean by its heat had kept this ground from congelation and has provided enough precipitations for grass and trees developing on these islands. And in Neocene descendants of one of survived species, domestic sheep, wander among meadows and woods. There are swift-footed wood animals, massive inhabitants of plains and light forests, and also dexterous and mobile inhabitants of mountains among them.
New Zealand orovis (literally: “mountain sheep”) has returned to habitat where distant ancestors of these animals lived: in mountains. Here, on Alpine meadows, small herds of these animals under the leading of dominant male graze.
Orovis is medium-sized animal (domestic goat-sized one). Back legs at it are longer than front ones: it is a characteristic feature of mountain animals. At such constitution it is more convenient to graze on slope.
Neck of animal is strong especially at the adult male - animals establish hierarchy butting. Horns are short, straight, with thick bases, sticking up back and in sides. Forehead is very wide, at the male it sometimes acts as osseous “helmet”. Muzzle of orovis is narrow and rather long: it helps to nibble grass growing between stones.
Hoofs of orovis are strong and wide. The bottom surface of hoofs is concave and edges are rather sharp: with the help of such hoofs animal can walk on abrupt slopes and keep on smooth rocks.
In mountains it happens coldly enough even in warm climate of Neocene. Therefore orovises differ in dense and thick wool. Adult animals have grey wool on the body, dark legs and “belt” (longitudal stripe) on back. For recognition of neighbours on cheeks of adult animals there are white stains varying by size and form at different individuals. In summer animals fade and wool becomes shorter and thiner.
Summer is time when air rings from flights of different blood-sucking flies. Therefore tail of orovis had turned to excellent fly-beater – it is long and flexible with brush of long hair on the tip.
Orovises migrate in herds in mountains of New Zealand. In each herd there are large dominant male (large head with thick horns distinguishes it), females standing lower in hierarchy (in harem of one male there are about ten ones of them) and cubs. In summer these animals rise highly in mountains, and at times they reach snow-line. Their basic food is grassy plants and mainly graminoids. It is much more difficult to search for forage in winter – orovises hardly rake snow with their thin legs. Therefore more often in winter it is possible to meet orovises in foothills where snow layer is not so thick or it does not fall absolutely. Animals feed in woods, graze grass and ferns, and gnaw branches of bushes and young trees. At this time some harems of different males can unite: in winter these animals tolerantly concern to each other. Also it is easier to big herd to protect from local predators.
In spring when snow in mountains thaws orovises come back in mountains. At this time between males there are fierce duels for females and territory: opponents ram foreheads and make force struggle trying to tumble the contender down. Both contenders loudly roar during a duel trying to make an impression upon the opponent. Sometimes in the heat of struggle they rear and start to beat opponent by forelimbs. After such duel defeated one runs out from stadium but sometimes at worst it stays on a battlefield lying having had neck fracture.
The winner male drives “harem” of defeated one to the herd and marks new territory by dung heaps. The defeated male now stays practically without means of subsistence: it lives at the edge of territory which once was its property and carefully hides the stay on it – up to the following breeding season.
Once a year in early spring while animals stay in forest zone, the orovis female gives rise to two cubs. They can run in some hours after birth. When snow in mountains thaws the herd goes to Alpine meadows and during the migration cubs master elements of mountaneering. They suck milk up to 4-month age but since the second week of life start to try plants eating by adult animals. Grown to the age of half-year young males start to suit duels and to establish hierarchy. At this time dominant male starts to show them the superiority compelling them to leave from herd.
Young males form independent herds and migrate in mountains within two years. Having reached maturity they start to challenge adult owners of “harems”, and at times the herd of old male appears shared between two or three young applicants.

Taurovis (Taurovis aotearoae)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: marshy plains and bushes of New Zealand in temperate climate zone.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Up to time of European colonization of New Zealand first settlers of these islands had already time to destroy huge wingless moa birds occupying ecological niches of herbivorous mammals. Ecological niches which have become empty as a result of unlimited hunting of aborigenes stood empty rather not for long time: after disappearance of humans their satellites – become wild pets – have occupied them. Descendants of domestic sheeps, fertile and quickly adapting animals have occupied niches of herbivores in various places. One of sheep descendants had turned to very remarkable animal resembling bulls by mighty constitution.
Taurovis, the “bull-sheep” – it is the name of this creature. This is very large animal, largest one among New Zealand herbivores: its height at a shoulder is up to 1.7 m at length of body up to 3,5 m. At it there are massive body, rather short thick legs and large head. The neck of animal is short and covered with mane of long hair. The body is covered with short brown wool with dark “glasses” around of eyes and “stockings” on legs. At males wool on trunk is darker than at females.
The “ram surface” of head of the mature male is trapezoid, flat, formed by forehead and wide bases of short thick horns and covered with hairless cornificate skin. Ends of horns are directed to sides and even a little downwards. Horns serve to these animals rather for demonstration than for direct purpose: it is impossible to make force struggle by them, at butting horns of animals do not adjoin at all. At taurovis females horns are underdeveloped, and look as bone lumps on each side of skull and forehead is more convex than at males. Edges of forehead hang above eyes forming original osseous “peaks” protecting eyes from casual damages by branches of bushes.
Taurovises live on bush plains of New Zealand frequently coming to bogs. For walking across fenny bogs this animal has special adaptation: hoofs are wide and can move apart increasing the area of support. Besides these animals perfectly swim and frequently feed in rivers thining out thickets of reed and other marsh plants. In heat animals spend all day in the river grazing on bank in the evening.
Near rivers one trouble waits of these large animals: in water mosquitoes, midges and other blood-sucking insects breed in plenty. They attack warm-blooded animals by large swarms exhausting them by stings. Taurovises are able to resist to this mistfortune: they bathe in river or wallow in dirt. The drying up dirt unpleasantly smells partly masking smell of animals. Besides it sticks wool of animals to the true armour impenetrable for stings of mosquitoes.
In places where taurovises regularly feed bushes do not form continuous cover: big animals trumble and constantly renew tracks along which they walk. It expands their forage base: among bushes clearings appear where graminoids and other various grasses giving food to taurovises and other local herbivores plentifully grow.
Taurovises live in herds including one male, some females and cubs of first two years of life. Each herd has the territory which borders are marked by manure heaps. These heaps are regularly renewed, and at times reach 1 meter height. Herd has some basic routes of movement on territory. Within one year they are used with different frequency: in summer animals spend time near to rivers or lakes, and in winter more often in bush thickets.
Once a year female gives rise to one large cub. At three – four hours after birth it stands and tries to walk, and for the second day of life it freely walks behind herd. Young growth is covered with more light wool than adult animals: it is straw-coloured with brown legs. Young taurovis spends first two years of life in parental herd. But when it grows up and colouring of wool becomes all more similar to adult one, young animal is compelled to abandon herd – adult animals show aggression to young ones seeing competitors in them.
Young females give rise to posterity since four-year-old age.

Sylvammon (Sylvammon gracilis)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: evergreen woods of Northern island of New Zealand.
Forests of New Zealand had lost because of human destructive activity large moa birds in Neocene had found new herbivorous inhabitants. Descendants of sheeps, domestic animals introduced to New Zealand became them. In Neocene when the human species had disappeared and set of new ecological niches had appeared descendants of this domestic animal had started to evolve roughly having evolved in conditions of island isolation to some species differing by ecology.
The sylvammon is large species of artiodactyls living in woodlands and forests of New Zealand. Withers height of adult male is up to 150 – 160 cm. By proportions this species is a little similar to deer.
The long neck is covered with mane of lengthened hairs. At old males mane hangs down almost up to knees of forward legs. Shoulders of sylvammon are higher than crupper and back of animal is sloping. Due to such constitution animal can browse leaves from trees at height up to 2 meters. Due to need animal can even rear on back legs. Animal can run quickly and jump high.
Horns are similar to goat’s ones; at females and young males they are straight and only at old males can bend semilunarly. Bases of horns are bulged and also pulled together, and horn tips are directed back – in this case they do not prevent to move in dense wood. Among females hornless animals appear frequently. Horns at males are lighter than at females.
Wool of sylvammon is short and rather thin: animal lives in rather warm climate not rising highly in mountains and not coming to southern areas of New Zealand. Except for mane long hairs grow on tail of this animal more similar to horse’s one. Colouring of body of sylvammon is dark-brown with white stomach and white “glasses” around of eyes.
It lives in woods preferring to graze at sites where bushes and young trees spread off: on marges and near river banks. Frequently it goes to plains overgrown with bush. In wood animals have favourite tracks adhering them at movement.
Sylvammons have kept characteristic for sheeps gregarious habit of life. Herds of these animals total up to 20 individuals and consist of several breeding groups including male and three – four females. In forest herd moves having stretched in line where ahead there are dominant individuals. The rank of females in herd is determined by rank of the male which group they belong.
Due to change of habit of life proportions of animals have changed that was resulted in their behaviour. More graceful constitution has made impossible struggle by ram heads impacts characteristic for ancestors. Males sort out their relations striking each other lateral impacts by head. Crushing blows characteristic for rams were transformed at these animals to demonstration of horns. The sylvammon male shows itself to the contender having bent head down. Thus horns are lifted upwards that visually exaggerates his size. At this time mane on neck of the male is fluffed. Males rear on back legs and can make some steps in such position for strengthening of the impression created at the opponent.
At any season in sylvammon herds it is possible to see cubs. Regularity in breeding at this species is not present but most part of cubs is born in spring (in October – November in Southern hemisphere). One cub usually is born though about a quarter of all females eans twins. Cub is born well advanced as at all hoofed mammals. At one hour after birth it already can walk and at the second day of life does not lag behind herd.

Great goatlope (Gravicaper magnus)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, savannas and light forests at the west of subcontinent.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In human epoch ungulates of bovid family had suffered the great damage. Many of their species had been objects of hunting, and practically all wild species had suffered from destruction of inhabitancy and the expansion of territories occupied for agriculture. Subsequently the significant part of these grounds had undergone to desertification, and began even less suitable for life of ungulates. In Neocene new groups of running herbivorous mammals had appeared, and the variety of ruminant artiodactyls had reduced. In human epoch herds of various wild ruminants were replaced by monospecific herds of domestic cattle which had become extinct after people in the majority of places. But representatives of primitive breeds of domestic ruminants became ancestors of some species of Neocene ungulates. At the East-African subcontinent (Zinj Land) from feral domestic goats many kinds of goatlopes had descended; these ones became dominant herbivores of subcontinent alongside with horned suids of Porceratidae family.
In savannas at the west of Zinj Land small herds of very large ungulates similar by a constitution to domestic humped ox or eland antelope of human epoch graze. It is the most massive representative of goatlopes, the great goatlope. Its genus name “Gravicaper” means “heavy he-goat”, and emphasizes features of its anatomy. Evolution of goatlopes directed to increasing of body size is limited by presence of large horned suids at Zinj Land. In Neocene among suids a plenty of massive running forms occupying ecological niches of rhinoceroses, tapirs and bulls had appeared. Therefore great goatlope is an only exception among swift-footed gracile relatives.
Great goatlope is an ecological analogue of elands of Holocene. Growth of this animal at a shoulder is about 160 cm, and weight is up to 800 kgs. Legs are rather short, and hoofs are wide. Front and rear legs have approximately equal length, therefore back of animal is horizontal. Great goatlope runs rather slowly and prefers to live on plains with firm ground.
The large animal in conditions of a hot climate faces with a problem of heat emitting. At great goatlope on the neck “hanger” develops – wide plica of skin stretched from chin up to back edge of thorax. This skin is penetrated with blood vessels, and in day heat they dilate, giving to air surplus of heat.
Skin of great goatlope is covered with very short light grey wool; from apart its wool seems velvety. At young animals wool is rather long and darker, rather than at adults. At adult animals long black hair growing on the bottom edge of “hanger” form a kind of “beard” from chin up to stomach. It is especially well advanced at males and helps to estimate force and physical condition of the male in courtship season. On long tail there is a switch of black hair.
At great goatlope both females and males are horned. Horns of these animals are short and have wide bases almost adjoining on forehead. Horns are lyre-shaped, and the annual gain adds new relief ring in their basis. During courtship duels males fall on knees of forward legs and combat, striking impacts by head and neck. Rut at great goatlope takes place at the beginning of dry season.
Great goatlope eats lower parts of grasses and undersized plants, therefore it prefers to graze near to other species which eat top parts of plants. This species does not compete to bikifaru, the representative of horned pigs, because it occupies various habitats, preferring dry ones: savannas overgrown with grass and flat hillsides with small amount of bush.
Once a year, in the beginning of rainseason, the female gives rise to one large, well advanced calf. One hour after birth it already can walk, and at the second day of life it runs on a level with adult animals. Sexual maturity at these animals comes at the age of 3 years.

Donkey goatlope (Hippocapra asellina)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, savannas and woodlands at the west of subcontinent.
Goatlopes evolved at Zinj Land are descendants of the common ancestor, domestic goat (Capra domestica). Till the evolution history, occupying various habitats, these animals changed, adapting to new conditions. It allowed them to avoid competition and to use resources of an environment more effectively.
The highest species of goatlopes is donkey goatlope living in dry regions at the west of subcontinent. Its growth at a shoulder reaches 170 centimeters, and animal can browse branches at height more than 2 meters. This is quickly running animal of gracile constitution keeping in large herds.
Donkey goatlope is easily distinguishing due to the specific colouring similar to colouring of Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) lived in human era. But the colouring of this species is less contrast: on body, shoulders, hips and neck on light greyish-beige background thin and dense vertical brown strips stretch. At old animal strips on back part of body may turn pale. At young growth colouring is more contrast, and calves of this species seem darker. The bottom part of legs at animals of any age is single-color greyish-white. For recognition of congeners donkey goatlope has dark marks on head: wide black strip at the edge of ears and black top part of head.
At this species horns are present at animals of both genders. They are lengthened, twisted as at koodoo antelope, and have smooth surface. At males horns are larger, rather than at females.
Tail of donkey goatlope is similar to horse’s one – it is short and covered with long white hair.
Distinctive feature of this species of goatlopes is long ears. This is an adaptation helping to be cooled. At donkey goatlope the special form of social behaviour is developed: as a sign of attachment to each other animals lick each other’s ears; the female also behaves so in relation to the calf. This ritual has practical value: saliva evaporates, improving heat emitting. Besides on cheeks of animal wide lobe-like hangers. If the animal becomes hot, blood inflows to them, and they increased in size, also emitting heat in air.
Due to high growth donkey goatlope does not compete to other species of ruminants of Zinj Land. It eats top parts of graminoids and foliage of bushes, and can browse bottom branches of low trees. Therefore more often it lives at edges of small forests and thickets of bushes. This species keeps in herds including both males and females. Such herds may total some tens animals of various ages. Out of courtship season males are tolerant relatively to each other. In courtship season, which begins at the end of rainseason, they start to behave aggressively to each other, and the herd is separated into set of harems, each of which is jealously protected by male. At this time males start to emit very strong “goat” smell. Males battle against each other, having widely moved apart front legs and having lowered heads. The winner male drives defeated male away from harem, uttering throat bleating, and brings its females in harem. At this moment it starts to smell especially strongly. Male of donkey goatlope “marks” females by original mode – he urinates plentifully on the ground, rolls in dirt, rubring urine in wool, and then rubs against females, leaving smell of urine on them. During courtship season male repeats this procedure each day.
At the beginning of the next rain season the female gives birth to one well advanced calf. In first some minutes after birth it already rises on legs and tries to walk. At the age of three months vegetative food contains more than half of its diet. The female, in addition to milk, feeds calf with belched semidigested grass, thus supplying it with unicellular organisms necessary for life, which live in stomach at all ruminants.
Young females become sexually mature at the second year of life, and males at the third year. Life expectancy of these animals in nature does not exceed 20 years.

Swamp goatlope (Paludicapra pseudositatunga)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, marshlands in east and southeast of subcontinent.
People left after them the impoverished and broken ecosystems, and also a significant amount of feral domestic species of animals. During the restoration of ecosystems, in first millions years after disappearance of mankind, till the process of adaptive radiation many new species of animals occupying various ecological niches have appeared. It reduces the competition between them as such species though related to each other, differ in requirements to inhabitancy and can coexist in the same territory, using different food sources.
In East African subcontinent (Zinj Land) in Neocene the various bovids live; they are goatlopes, descendants of feral domestic goats. Various species of these animals differ in size, constitution and features of inhabitancy. Many species of goatlopes inhabit open landscapes with firm ground, but one species, swamp goatlope, has developed life in marshlands at the east of subcontinent.
Swamp goatlope is “antelope” of gracile constitution; growth of animal at a shoulder is about one meter. The wool of this animal is short, colored reddish-brown with thin vertical strips of white color – such pattern helps this animal to mask in reeds. At male long beard grows, females have only bunch of hair on chin. Both males and females have long skin “wattles” on lower jaw. At males ducts of specific glands secreting characteristic goat smell open in them: oily secretions are rich in caprylic acid and serve for marking of territory and recognition of congeners. “Wattles” of males are covered with long wool which absorbs secretion and keeps smell during long time. At meeting animals sniff each other’s “wattles”. To make marks at the border of territory male rubs “wattles” against tree trunks and reed stalks.
Swamp goatlope is able to swim and walks confidently in fenny places. On fenny ground fingers and toes of animal move apart, increasing the area of support. Hooves of marsh goatlope are long and wide, therefore it runs rather slowly overland. Beyond the shelters swamp goatlope feels like uncertainly and prefers to not appear in such places. But in reeds this animal lays a network of footpaths on which it moves across its territory. The part of footpaths is directed to shelters – to rich thickets and to swamps overgrown with floating plants where it is difficult for predator to pursue this animal.
Horns of marsh goatlope are pointed and long. They are similar remotely to horns of oryx antelope (Oryx), but are not acute and conic, and twirled as a dense spiral along an axis. This animal lives in herds including several tens of individuals of both genders. Beyond the breeding season male behave peacefully to each other, but in heat time there is a strong competition between them. Males of this species fight, hooking each other’s horns, and struggle, having kneeled forward legs.
At female two calves are born almost always. Only young females give rise to one cub, and in one case from ten even triplets may be born. But usually one calf from triplets quickly dies, because it does not get enough milk. Calves differ from adult animals in darker colouring – at them white strips are narrow, and background color of wool is brown. Young animals pass to diet of adult animals at the age of 4 – 5 months and remain in parental herd up to sexual maturity (at the age of 22 – 25 months).

Longhorn goatlope (Laticornella frontalis)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, savannas in the north and west of subcontinent.
During the adaptive radiation in Zinj Land a plenty of goatlopes appeared – these ones are descendants of feral goats which have occupied various ecological niches in nature of subcontinent. Species of goatlopes adapted to various habitats differ from each other in size and constitution. Adaptive radiation reduces a competition between them and allows using of resources of inhabitancy more effectively.
Herds of herbivores in dry plains of Zinj Land are formed by various goatlopes and cursorial descendants of pigs - large bikifaru (Dilophoporcula rhinocerotoides). Among them representatives of original species of goatlopes, longhorn goatlopes, are remarkable in their special appearance. Females of this species look rather usual, but male horns differ in original shape having analogues only at some prehistoric species of ungulates.
The height at a shoulder of adult male of longhorn goatlope reaches 150 cm; females are smaller a little. This animal has gracile constitution, slightly sloping back and rather long neck. This species of animals is adapted to fast running: despite of great size, longhorn goatlope can accelerate momentum about 70 kms per hour at the short distance.
At this species sexual dimorphism is sharply expressed. The female of longhorn goatlope is hornless; its wool has grey color with numerous cross strips on legs and crupper. Stomach is white; between area of white wool on stomach and background colouring wide black strip stretches. Eyes of longhorn goatlope female are surrounded with area of white wool which at different individuals varies from small crescent spot at back edge of an eye up to wide irregular-shaped ring. Beard at female is small and grows only on lower jaw.
Male of this species has darker colouring – it has wide cross strips on legs and crupper, and on body there are scattered numerous black spots on grey background. Head of male has appreciable black-and-white colouring: back part of head, area near ears, nose bridge and cheeks are black, and the tip of muzzle, lips, beard, lower jaw and area around of eyes are white. Beard at males is more advanced, rather than at females: it grows on lower jaw and strethes back up to throat.
Males have long horns of original shape – hence the name of species. Span of horns reaches almost 2 meters. They grow in sides and are curved upwards a little. At old individuals horns are slightly bent back. Such horns can not be used as the effective weapon against predators, therefore at predator attack males of longhorn goatlope rely only upon their own speed. In courtship season duels of males have exclusively ritual character – males fall on knees of front legs and “measure” the length of horns, only slightly touching each other by forehead and touching each other’s horns. In such duels animal with the longest horns wins though occasionally male, at which one or both horns are broken, may win due to larger size. At males and females of this species forehead is wide, and frontal bones of skull are thickened a little.
Because of special shape of male’s horns longhorn goatlopes avoid woody areas and the regions overgrown with high bushes, preferring grassy plains. They keep near to herds of larger goatlope species, avoiding thus attacks of predators. Due to high growth, keen sense of smell and good sight they can notice approaching of predators in time, and notify animals surrounding them on danger with loud bleating.
Usually female gives rise to one calf; twins are born approximately in quarter of the general number of birth cases. Calf is well advanced, able to run in one hour after birth. It has spotty colouring which helps to mask in grass. As they grow, young females loose spots on body, and on legs color marks merge to strips. At males juvenile colouring is partly kept – only the part of spots vanishes. At the age of 2 years females already can take part in breeding. Young males also reach sexual maturity, but usually they can not compete to older congeners. At the age of 5 – 6 years male’s horns reach the size typical for this species.

Crested goatlope (Sylvicaprella sylvana)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Zinj Land, humid forests in east and southeast of subcontinent.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

After human disappearance some species of domestic animals had an opportunity to evolve on a par with wild species. Primitive breeds of domestic goats, widespread in tropical areas of Old World, not too dependent on people care, had been among such animals. In Zinj Land descendants of these animals had evolved to some species of goatlopes of various sizes, differing from each other in shape and ecology. Large species of these ungulates are inhabitants of plains, and small species, which growth at a shoulder does not exceed 30 cm, live in tropical forests at eastern coast of subcontinent.
One species of small goatlopes is crested goatlope widely settled in the east of Zinj Land. It is an original ecological analogue of duikers, dwarf antelopes known in human epoch. Growth of this animal at a shoulder is about 35 cm. In its constitution this goatlope is similar to duikers or shevrotains – it has rather short legs allowing run quickly in underbrush and sharp changes of run direction, when escaping from the enemy. Neck of this animal is also short, and head is prolonged and has wedge-shaped shape and mobile lips allowing leaves browsing. The feeding animal frequently rears on two legs and can keep such position of body at feeding for a long time.
Wool of crested goatlope has camouflage colouring – on head, neck and sides it is grey with olive-green shade. From nape along the back black strip stretches, faltering sometimes. It reaches a tip of tail. The bottom part of tail and back part of buttocks are covered with white wool. In case of alarm fluffed up wool of tail lifted upwards is an alarm signal. On head between the bases of horns the long bunch of rigid white wool grows, well visible from apart. Using it, crested goatlopes notice congeners in twilight of tropical forest underbrush.
Horns of this animal are straight, pointed and short; their tips are partly directed in sides. Protecting itself against enemy, animal makes deep chipped wounds by horns. Males of this species, establishing hierarchy relations, butt each other. Crested goatlope lives in herds including 10 – 20 animals under leadership of older male. They frequently form mixed herds with local flightless birds – dwarf species of ostriches. It allows representatives of both species to watch world around – crested goatlope has sharp hearing and sense of smell better, and dwarf ostriches have wider field of view because of the growth.
The courtship season of this species is very long, and during half-year there are the females ready to pairing in herd. Males compete to each other for an opportunity of pairing, and dominant male appears the father of calves born in herd in most cases. Barchelor males live lonely or in small groups. Because there are no females near them, they relate to each other much more peaceful, rather than in common herd.
Usually female gives rise to one calf though about one third of females can give rise to twins. Pregnancy lasts till about two months, and calves are born two times per one year at the same female. Calf differs from adult individuals in darker colouring with irregular-shaped cross strips. White marks appear at the age of 16 – 18 months when young animal reaches full development and can take part in breeding. Life expectancy of crested goatlope does not exceed 15 years.
In tropical forests of different areas of the Earth some animal kinds very similar to crested goatlope have appeared. In forests of Mauritius dwarf dryocaprella lives, descending from the same ancestor, but not related to this species, and in Great Antigua Island cursorial rodent mazamara lives, being only convergent similar to this species. Similar conditions had independently resulted in formation of similar features of anatomy at these species.

Bovipotamus (Neobubalis lacustris)
Order: Aritodactyls (Aritodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae)

Habitat: Carpentaria Lake and swamp forest of northern Meganesia.
The Pleistocene saw Australia populated by giant herbivores of the marsuipial kind, now extinct, such as Zygomaturus and Palorchestes; such animals may have spent some time in water, but could not pass fully to an amphibious lifestyle due to rearing cubs in a pouch. The Holocene saw these large animals replaced by introduced ungulates brought by white settlers, among them was the Asian Buffalo (Bubalis bubalis), an animal with a preference for swampy habitats.
Its descendant in the Neocene has realised what the ancient marsupials could not, a completely amphibious mammal, analogous to the hippopotamus. This animal is the Bovipotamus. This animal is relatively small compared to its ancestor; the male reaches 400 kilograms while the female attains only 250 kilograms. Its small stature allows it to live in large groups and walk through forested areas with less difficulty. Its body is bulky and short-legged, with a larger head in proportion to its body than its ancestors, in this sense it resembles a pig at first glance more than a bull. The hooves are able to spread apart, allowing it to walk on swampy ground, and between the hooves there is a web of skin to aid in swimming. Nostrils, ears and eyes are all positioned on the top of the head, as with the hippopotamus. Its skin is dark grey and almost bald with hair only on the tip of the tail and along the neck. The hide is thick to deter biting insects and to protect against scratching vegetation. Its horns are broad at the base, forming a helmet like that of a musk-ox, this allows not only for combat but also to pass through rough vegetation even at a gallop. The points are small and swept to the side; males have larger horn points, while females simply possess the "helmet" with small points facing downward.
This animal is vegetarian, feeding on reeds and water plants. It forms large herds of up to 30, whose feeding prevents the Carpentaria Lake from becoming choked with vegetation. They spend most of the day in the water, and can dive to 2-3 meeters deep to feed on aquatic vegetation such as the tubers of water-lilies. They also feed at the surface on water-hyacinth and the leaves of water lilies. During the night they disperse onto land to feed on reeds, and will sometimes eat softer vegetation in the swamp forest. During the day they stay in the water to prevent overheating. They are preyed upon by the Yagil and the Marsupial Panther when it is on land, and large aquatic pythons prey on their young in the lake.
The breeding time occurs in the dry season, when there is enough dry ground to run about. The males will display by throwing vegetation up with their heads and horns. When in combat, the males shove one another with their horn-helmets, head on. The males form leks of several individuals. The female gives birth to one large calf, which can swim immediately. Calves have light grey skin which sometimes has lighter patches that disappear with age. This animal has a lifespan of up to 30 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Four Horned Phobocorn (Quadrucornis armatus)
Order: Even-toed Ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae); subfamily: Phobocorns (Phobocorninae)

Habitat: Scrub and broad-leaf forest of eastern Madagascar.
During the beginning of the Neocene, some animals evolved into shapes and niches seen previously in other animals. Less often, completely original forms appeared, exhibiting features not seen in wild animals before. Some original groups became entirely new kinds of animal, one such group is the representatives of Phobocorninae subfamily.
Descended from run-wild domestic goats, these horned ruminants are in many ways unremarkable. Their bodies and coloration resemble small and medium sized antelopes of various kinds, such as impala or sitatunga. Their plain appearance stops, however at the horns, a hallmark of their ancestors, greatly enhanced.
Phobocornines are defined by the presence of more than one pair of horns. Such arrangements of horns had been rare in human era, present only in the Tetracerus antelope, and some breeds of sheep. There are some genera, each having different horns respectively, four or six, in various arrangements and sizes.
The four-horned Phobocorn, posses fairly impressive horns, 2 pairs, growing from the brow, behind the eyes. One pair inclined upwards, the other down, in this way, they resemble four-horned domestic sheep breeds of human occupation. The horns have widely spaced ribs, and are slightly curved, and are only slightly shorter than the length of the animal’s head. Unlike some other Phobocorns, there are no horns on the base of the nose. Four horned Phobocorns are medium-sized browsers of the forest thus having dark brown pelts with lighter vertical tripes, similarly to some Holocene antelope, aiding in camouflage. In size, they are equal to a medium sized antelope, like the sitatunga: the shoulder height is about 130 cm at weight of about 140 kg.
Like all Phobocorns, breeding occurs in the wet season. At the middle of dry season males display lekking behavior, with males competing physically by ramming foreheads, and poking each other in sides with horns. Females give birth coinciding with the flush of growth in the later part of the wet season.
Related species Lesser Four-horn (Quadrucornis minor) inhabits sparse forest on the Western side of Madagascar, and is also a browser. This one is mostly similar to its larger relative, except for lighter coat color, body slightly smaller (shoulder height is about 110 cm). Horns are not equal in size, outer pair are half the length of the top pair, unlike eastern relative. It is relatively uncommon, due to the presence of more successful Six Horned Phobocorn.

This species of mammals is discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Western Dwarf Phobocorn (Neotetracerus dimorphus)
Order: Even-toed Ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae); subfamily: Phobocorns (Phobocorninae)

Habitat: Scrub and savanna of western Madagascar.
Dwarf Phobocorns are the smallest of the Phobocorns, and are mixed feeders on both low browse, herbage, and soft grasses in scrub-land and grassland. They posses smooth, short horns, one pair of typical brow horns, non spiraling, and one smaller pair projecting from the base of the nose, in front of the eyes. In this way they resemble the Indian Four Horned antelope of human era. Males have both pairs of equal length, but females have the front pair larger, and the posterior pair relatively smaller. This is connected to the fact that males use their horns in territorial and lekking disputes with other males, but females must use their horns to defend themselves and their young. These animals are about the size of a miniature domestic goat, but more slender, possessing tan pelts with a darker stripe down the back, the muzzle and eye area are darker. Males joust and lock horns actively, competing for females. As with all phobocorns, breeding occurs in the wet season. Young are relatively small, and will hide in long grass similarly to a deer fawn.
Upland Dwarf Phobocorn (Neotetracerus montanus) inhabits the plateu and mountain slopes of central Madagascar, and is adapted to eat the tougher plants of upland scrub and savanna. It is lightly colored, cream, with slightly darker patches hardly discernible, dorsal stripe is paler than plain relative. Body and legs are stouter, and the animal is quite surefooted.

This species of mammals is discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Pied-horn Phobocorn (Cincatocornus ornatus)
Order: Even-toed Ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae); subfamily: Phobocorns (Phobocorninae)

Habitat: Grassland and sparse forest of western Madagascar.
The Pied-horn is a rather beautiful animal. It is pale greyish brown, with dark "socks" on its lower legs, and light markings around the face. It has 1 pair of long upward-backward pointing, spiral horns (like those of the holocene Blackbuck antelope), in the typical place. There is also a smaller pair of horns at the base of the nose, just before the forehead. The front pair are ivory colored with black tips, whilst the larger pair are banded in black and white, creating a striking appearance. Both males and females will use horns for defense against predators, sometimes simply posturing with horns is enough to deter attackers. This creature is about as large as a ram, with slightly longer legs. It is a commonly seen grazer and only browses rarely, in times of famine. Horns are arranged in such a way as to not impair vision when the animal is grazing.
The Pied-horn is the most common and populous of the Phobocorns, forming large herds. As might be expected, males do not joust or ram with such ornate horns. Males simply posture and show horns, with elaborate head-sweeping motions, males with most impressive horns generally win. Females give birth when the grass is lush and green, at the end of the wet season, young are almost immediately able to follow the herd.

This species of mammals is discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Six Horned Phobocorn (Phobocornis apocalypticus)
Order: Even-toed Ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bovids (Bovidae); subfamily: Phobocorns (Phobocorninae)

Habitat: Open Forest, scrub, treed savanna, western Madagascar.
The most impressive phobocorn, truly a sight to behold. It is the size of a pony, thus, the largest Phobocorn. So named for its uncanny resemblance to the biblical multi-horned goat, harbinger of the Christian apocalypse.
This animal is colored ruddy brown, with faded greyish brown stripes, a light underside, and white "socks". It possesses 2 pairs of large, ribbed brow-horns, and a smaller pair of horns on the forehead. Paired horns are back-swept so as to not interfere with feeding. Males and females have horns of similar size, but males posses a "beard" of whitish hair on the neck and lower shoulders.
This phobocorn is a generalist, mixed feeder, and has a large, chambered stomach. Able to consume leaves of broadleaf trees or bushes, twigs and shoots, as well as both soft and coarse grass. It derives some of its water consumption from succulents, and will depend on them more heavily during the dry season, when trees drop their leaves.
Breeding behavior is during the wet season, males use horns in competing for females, but fighting is mostly ritualized. Horns lock, as with deer, and each male tries to push the other's head to one side. Young are fairly large, and move from suckling to regular browsing fairly quickly, but start with the more tender parts of bushes and low trees.

This species of mammals is discovered by Tim Morris, Adelaide, Australia.

Duikapi (Giraffotragus altus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Bonehorns (Osseocorni seu Parabovidae)

Habitat: savannas and light forests of Southern Africa.
After the ice age of boundary between Holocene and Neocene borders of some zoogeographic areas have changed. So, after Mediterranean sea drying and Gibraltar isthmus formation border of Holarctic zoogeographic area has moved to the south having included the north zone of African savannas (the middle Sahara watercourse of Niles (flowing now from the east to the west of Northern Africa and inflowing to headstream of Niger river) serves as border between Holarctic and Ethiopian zoogeographic areas). In Northern Africa there are descendants of Eurasian and Near Eastern animals and small impurity of descendants of African forms. But in Southern Africa separated from the north by continuous zone of mountains and marshy woods stretched along the equator relicts of a Holocene have remained and evolved - various species of even-toed hoofed mammals, descendants of different African antelopes. They occupy different ecological niches and are not less various than species of antelopes in early historical epoch.
Among herds of new South-African antelopes grazing in dense grass giants sedately wandering by small groups and regaling themselves with soft leaflets of trees inaccessible to anybody from other hoofed mammals are especially remarkable. These giants of Africa are duikapi – descendants of one species of the African wood duiker antelopes (Cephalophus). Though ancestors are too small, their descendant is rather large herbivore mammal: its withers height is up to 170 cm at body length up to 2 meters. Neck of duikapi is very long (the common growth of animal from horns up to hoofs is almost 3 meters). Colouring of short animal’s wool is sandy-yellow with brown cross strips on legs and neck; back is dark. Cubs of duikapi seem darker than adults: on their body strips are narrower and denser.
These long-legged animals move with amble similarly to giraffes and camels. In case of danger they can run gallop accelerating momentum up to 50 kilometers per hour.
Skull of adult animals is strongly bent in middle part; large eyes and small brain cavity tower above the lengthened obverse part. Due to high position of eyes at these animals there is fine circular field of view and they notice predators from afar. Similarly to giraffes and ostriches in Holocene epoch savannas duikapi serve as though as “sentinels” for other herbivores. Large nasal cavities indicate that at duikapi sense of smell is very keen.
On nape of duikapi the original cross wide “horn” is developed covered with wool and doubled at top where reduced rests of true horns, two small horn knobs are placed. Such bone ledge is used as the tournament weapon: contenders approach to each other by chest, rest foreheads and “struggle” by heads trying to curve neck of the opponent to force it to refuse struggle and to recede. Such fight is the original compromise between natural habit to butt inherited from bovine ancestors and rather fragile constitution of duikapi.
Duikapi keep in groups of 5 - 8 animals under the leading of elder female. In such group there are some adult females and their under one year aged cubs. Elder young males abandon mothers and young females can remain in parental group or leave it and create own one. Males live solitarly or in groups of 2 - 3 animals. Out of breeding season they tolerantly concern to each other but in breeding season their aggression relatively to each other sharply increases.
Duikapi are out of competition among animals of South-African savannas and light forests. These high animals browse branches of trees and bushes inaccessible to their neighbours. If all accessible lower branches on tree are eaten duikapi easily can rear on back legs resting hoofs against tree trunk and reaching up to fresh branches.
Pregnancy at this species lasts about 6 months. At the female only one cub is born at the end of dry season. Growth of newborn cub is about one and half meters. First time it feeds exclusively by milk but from monthly age gradually passes to vegetative food. It stops to depend on mother at the age of half-year, and becomes completely adult at the third year of life.

Thick-horned thunderhorn (Brontocornus magnus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Thunderhorns (Brontocornidae)

Habitat: Hindustan, South-Eastern Asia, woodlands, bushes, foothills.
In human epoch representatives hoofed mammals had a hard time. They appeared among favourite game, number of many species had strongly reduced, and some of them had disappeared at all as a result of hunting or change of habitats. The ice age had finished this epoch appeared one more test for them. Many species at this time had disappeared and variety of hoofed mammals had sharply decreased. Some orders like proboscid and sirens had disappeared completely. Therefore in Neocene hoofed mammals are presented by not numerous isolated families. But their evolution was not finished - survived groups of animals evolved to descendants perfectly adapted to changed inhabitancy.
In India separated from other Eurasia by Himalayas the whole new family of even-toed mammal had appeared. Its representatives differ in various form of horns turned to resonators for strengthening of voice. Because of this feature animals had been named “thunderhorns”. They descend from bovines, obviously from any small antelopes. Cavities of bovine horns had joined frontal and nasal cavities. At thunderhorns, their descendants, these cavities had got more complex form and horns had turned to resonators. At different species of these hoofed mammals resonators have various shape and voices of these animals differ appreciably. The voice serves for recognition of species representatives in bushes at a great distance (all thunderhorns are inhabitants of forests and bushes). One more role of loud voice is to inform the probable contender that any territory is occupied and by that to avoid force methods of struggle. Resonator outgrowths are rather fragile ones, also they are unsuitable for force struggle. In this connection the horn cover on these outgrowths at different species is at different stations of reduction up to its full disappearance. Females at all species of thunderhorns have fewer horns than males.
Thick-horned thunderhorn, the central representative of family, has kept more primitive ancestral features than other species. Its horns are similar to strongly swollen and short ram horns having kept horn cover on the top side. The voice of the present species resembles roar of any predator.
Thick-horned thunderhorn is small deer-sized animal differing in graceful constitution. The basic colouring of wool is light brown. Neck, back and rear legs of animal are covered with short black cross strips forming fine cryptic colouring. On legs black wool forms “stockings”. Tail is white, on the bottom side of neck also lengthened white wool grows. Tail put upright means signal of danger.
This animal keeps among bushes feeding by leaves and grass.
Thick-horned thunderhorn does not form herds and keeps in “harems”: one male and 4 - 6 females. In breeding season between males duels take place accompanying with loud frightening roar audible for kilometer and more. The rut falls to the beginning of dry season. Pregnancy lasts about 5 months. As a rule, female gives rise to one calf colored similarly to adults but having longer strips. At the age of one year young animals leave parental herd and form their own herds. Sexual maturity comes at three-year age (at females it happens some months earlier, than at males). At this time herds of young animals separate to harems. Life expectancy in nature reaches 12 - 14 years.

Forest trumpeter (Buccinotherium magna-voce)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Thunderhorns (Brontocornidae)

Habitat: Hindustan, foothills of Himalayas, light forests and thickets of bushes.
This species is large hoofed mammals of heavy-build constitution, one of the largest representatives of family: withers height of the adult male reaches 2 meters, female is a little bit smaller. The skull of this species is rather long; more than half of it the hollow resonating crest of the roundish shape amounts. Horn covers have completely disappeared and remained bases of horns are covered with velvety wool and rather brightly colored. The crest is high, compressed from sides; its edge is bordered by wide strip of black wool, and the middle part of crest is reddish-yellow. Body of this animal is colored bluish-gray; stomach is white. On long tail rich brush of white wool grows. Position and character of movements of tail at this animal expresses its condition at present moment.
The voice of forest trumpeter has determined its name: it sounds like lingering blares.
Jaws are long and rather weak: animal eats mainly soft food - leaves of trees and bushes. To browse it from branches on top jaw nose and upper lip have formed similarity of short proboscis, as if at tapir.
Wood trumpeters live in forests near large rivers where giant grasses and bushes plentifully expand. Hoofs of this animal are well adapted to walking on fenny ground and then forest trumpeter is able to swim well.
This mammal lives by couples kept for the whole year. The male incurs protection of territory borders marking them by heaps of manure. Also he warns the probable contender that the territory is occupied with the help of shouts. Wood trumpeters are especially “vociferous” in the morning. They actively shout while above river valleys there is dense fog: probability of predator attack is less so.
Once a year, mainly at the end of dry season female gives rise to one cub. By colouring it is similar to adult animals but on the head instead of crest only strip of black wool is. The young animal keeps with parents almost year, and female banishes it shortly before birth of the next cub. The animal becomes the adult at the age of four years.

Shadhavar (Shadhavar fabulous)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Thunderhorns (Brontocornidae)
Habitat: Hindustan, Southwest Asia up to the Persian ridge, plains and light forests.

Picture by Leonard Popov

Initial image - picture by Pavel Volkov

In Oriental (Persian) legends shadhavar is the fantastic creature : the antelope-like one with unique hollow horn. According the legend when the wind blew, the horn of this antelope sounded attractively to other animals. When curious animals approached closer, shadhavar rushed on them and ate: the word of mouth attributed to this fantastic animal furious behavior. And only the voice of the wild pigeon could charm this animal so that hunters could catch it.
But legends have disappeared together with people, and in savannas and light forests of Southern Asia the animal somewhat resembling the legendary creature has appeared. Its behavior is not so furious, as at the fantastic prototype, but some other properties rather approach this hoofed mammals from thunderhorn family with fictious creature. The horn of this animal is especially remarkable: bases of pair horns are pulled together and have grown together to the single structure resembling the crest of dinosaur Parasaurolophus. Only this hollow horn is straight, also continuing a line of animal head. The length of horn exceeds length of other skull in one and half time. The corneous cover on this structure has disappeared completely; "horn" is covered with short thin wool. It is not more used for fight, its purpose is to be the resonator and partly to carry out alarm function. The tip of horn is covered with black wool: it is a mark for recognition of neighbours. During ritual combats males bend head down so that the horn sticks upwards as it is possible. This way they determine the strongest one without fight. The horn of the female is shorter, and the black tip on it is not so big. Due to horn the male can utter lingering trumpet shout of high tone. The voice of the female is more silent, than at the male.
By other features shadhavar resembles other artiodactyls. It is herd animal by proportions similar to fallow deer. It lives in bush thickets in foothills and valleys, in summer rising highly in mountains. It keeps in herds by 10 - 20 ones. The basic background of body colouring is yellowish - grey, on wool there are longitudinal black stripes, lasting along all body from shoulders up to hips. These stripes help animals to disappear among bushes and do not allow predators to distinguish separate animals in herd (colouring of zebras works by similar mode). The animal can jump high.
It eats mainly leaves of bushes and soft grasses.
The coupling season falls to the end of summer. At this time males establish hierarchy and gather harem from 5 - 6 females, protecting them from other males. After coupling season the hierarchy is almost erased; and recent contenders do not pay attention against each other. Once a year, in the beginning of spring the female gives rise to two calves. They have no characteristic horn, and their voices sounds like lamb bleating. Calves are covered with small spots which merge in longitudinal strips later. Approximately to the age of one year at them the horn starts to form. At the female it reaches full development to the age of three years, at the male – up to the fifth year of life. Sexual maturity comes in three years, but males really can participate in breeding from five - six years.

Desert whistlehorn (Stridocornis aridophilus)
Order: Artiodactyls (Artiodactyla)
Family: Thunderhorns (Brontocornidae)

Habitat: semi-deserts and deserts of Near East and Northern Africa.
In human epoch hoofed mammals have strongly suffered from people activity. Destruction of their habitats and active hunting had resulted to that only few of them have survived up to Neocene. Indirectly reduction of number of hoofed mammals had resulted to that other groups of animals have started to master their ecological niches. Nevertheless, evolution of “true” hoofed mammals in Neocene has proceeded, and they even had formed new groups which had not existed in human epoch. One of such groups is a family of thunderhorns. They are mainly inhabitants of open spaces and light forests of Southern Asia and Northern Africa. One of representatives of family, the desert whistlehorn, has mastered life in rather difficult conditions: it lives in droughty district bordering from south and east coasts of Mediterranean salt swamps.
This animal of graceful addition looks similar to gazelle. The desert whistlehorn is medium-sized animal: it weighs only about 60 - 70 kg, its withers height is about 1 meter. Its legs are long and thin, with rather small hoofs. The desert whistlehorn can run very quickly, accelerating on a short distance to speed over 80 kms per hour. Because of small hoofs it avoids viscous ground: sandy sites of desert and boggy saline soils. In a dry season these animals meet on clay sites of desert, but in short rain season they leave in territory with dense and drier ground.
Body of the desert whistlehorn is one-color, sandy-yellow; wool on back is lighter up to almost white. Tail is long, with hairy brush of light hair on the tip. Characteristic feature of representatives of family is resonator chambers of various shapes on the head. At the whistlehorn they look like the vertical semicircular “crest” covered with black cross strips on light background. As at all thunderhorns, this outgrowth is formed by cavities of former horns, and serves for strengthening of sounds uttered by animals. However, the outgrowth is not only the resonator: the bone forming it is very thin also is penetrated with plenty of blood vessels. This adaptation also serves for cooling, effectively radiating surplus of heat. Of course, animals with such structure on head are not able to butt, therefore relations of hierarchy in herd are established mainly with the help of loud voices, pushes by shoulders and impacts by hoofs. But at whistlehorns the special form of expression of submission has appeared: weaker animal licks crest to stronger one. The sense of this behavior is, that evaporating saliva helps the licked animal to cool. This behavior became an element of courtship ritual of animals: the male “licks” a crest of the female like this, but only stronger ritualized, slightly touching it by tongue.
The desert whistlehorn lives in hot and droughty district, and eats various plants, including bitter and even poisonous for other animals ones. It can not drink for a long time, receiving a metabolic water from the eaten plants.
This animal keeps in big herds, in which hierarchical relations are established only in pairing season. At this time males start to utter loud sounds: long and also shrilly whistle through nostrils, blowing air through an outgrowth on a head (of course, it is connected with nasal ducts). Showing the resonating outgrowth to females, the male bends head back, showing it on the background of light wool of back.
In epoch when the climate became drier, the part of population of whistlehorns dwelt in Northern Africa has passed the Mediterranean bogs by way of isthmus connecting territories of Tunis and Sicily. In territory of Southern Europe they had turned to the special species – Etrurian whistlehorn (Stridocornis etrurius). The European species differs from African one in larger sizes, dark colouring (wool on sides and back is monotonous red), and propensity to life in foothills. Etrurian whistlehorn runs not so quickly, but dexterously swarms up rocks. It has stronger constitution, and its forward legs are appreciably shorter then back ones: it is a feature of adaptation to inhabiting on mountain slopes. Head of this animal is narrower, but higher, with short and high resonating crest. Courtship cry of this animal also differs from voice of desert whistlehorn: it sounds like abrupt loud sounds.

Nanditherium (Nanditherium altissimus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Thunderhorns (Bronthocornidae)
Habitat: Hindustan, forests of various types.

Restoration of tropical forests after disappearance of mankind promoted expansion of areas of forest species of animals and occurrence of new species adapted to life in such ecosystems. Occurrence of forests results in impoverishment of ground vegetation and in moving of organic substances accessible to consumption to the height inaccessible to many ground animals. At ground herbivorous mammals the choice is very poor in this situation: resettlement to any other habitats where habitual conditions of life are kept, or increase of size, allowing reaching tree branches. In Africa the foliage from trees is eaten by high giraffe ostriches to which ndipinotheriums similar to huge Pleistocene sloths compete. In Southern Asia they have an ecological analogue belonging to thunderhorns family – new group of artiodactyls, characteristic for tropics and subtropics of Eurasia to the south from Himalayas.
Nanditherium, the original Indian analogue of giraffe lives in woodlands of Hindustan. As against a giraffe, this animal has very massive constitution and shorter legs. The name of this animal means “Nandi beast” after Nandi, saddle buffalo of Shiva, the god of Hindu pantheon.
This is one of the largest mammals of Eurasia. Growth of adult nanditherium male at a shoulder makes three meters, and skull is about one meter long. Animal has thick two meter long neck mobile in the basis. Cervical vertebrae are light and porous; it makes them much more lightweight at preservation of durability. Bones of legs are very strong; under terminal phalanxes of fingers/toes shock-absorbers of fatty tissue develop, increasing the area of support and reducing loading on hooves. Skin on legs is dense (as at giraffe), that interferes with stagnation of blood.
Nanditheriums browse leaves and young shoots of trees at height of about 4 – 5 meters, not having competitors among other ground mammals. Jaws of this species are long and rather weak, and teeth are adapted to chewing of soft foliage. Nanditherium’s tongue is long and mobile; it operates as a hand when animal browses foliage – it twists and tightens to mouth of animal branches from which this animal tears off leaves by mobile lips.
Colouring of nanditherium is very original and includes two types of the pattern smoothly passing one to another. Head and top part of neck of animal are colored contrastly and brightly – on white background there are large black irregular-shaped spots. Shape and arrangement of these spots are individual, and animals find out each other using characteristic pattern on head. In top part of neck white color changes to brownish, and black passes to brown; spots turn to cross strips. Neck and forward part of body are striped, strips stretch on shoulders downward from the top. On back part of body strip pattern becomes poorly appreciable and body has almost smooth yellowish-brown colouring. Bottom part of legs and stomach of nanditherium are light colored, almost white. Young animal does not have white sites on body, and strips are more contrast, rather than at adults. Black-and-white colouring on head appears only after the beginning of independent life – at males earlier, than at females.
Head resonator of nanditherium represents crest of rounded shape which lasts along the whole head. Any rests of corneous cover are completely absent on it. With the help of resonator animals of this species utter infrasounds for communication at the large distance as elephants made it in Holocene epoch.
Nanditheriums live in small herds, including male, two or three females and their posterity of several years. In forest groups of these animals tread out ways which generations of animals use. Obda, large herbivorous mammal of Siberia, changes landscape in similar way. In these places forest canopy is broken and plentiful underbrush develops, giving food to smaller herbivores. Along nanditherium tracks a steady complex of animal and plant species develops.
Similarly to all large animals, nanditherium breeds very slowly. Female gives rise to one calf once in three years: pregnancy lasts till about two years, and in the rest of the time calf eats milk. After the female has stopped feeding it, young nanditherium stays in parental group for about two years, and leaves it at birth of the new calf at its mother. At this time the adult type of colouring on head starts to appear at it, and adult animals start to behave more aggressively to the grown up animal. Young animals gather in small groups and fed, moving on tracks of adult animals. Due to large size death rate among young nanditheriums is low. Sexual maturity at these animals comes at the age of seven years. Life expectancy makes till 60 years and more.

Simon, the forum member, has helped to specify features of biology of present species.

Mountain camelope (Leptocamelus montanophylus)
Order: Tylopods (Tylopoda)
Family: Camels (Camelidae)
Habitat: mountain areas of Meganesia.

Picture by Rafael Silva do Nascimento, Brazil

In Australia camels never were found in wild and they could not get to this isolated continent naturally. Woods and sea passages reliably barred them the way to the “lost world” of Australia. Only due to one species of primates, Homo sapiens had become extinct at the end of Holocene they could get to this continent as domestic animals. After human disappearance their ancestors, dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius), have become wild and have given rise to several species of herbivores competing with local marsupial animals. Among camels analogues of flatland giraffes and antelopes, and also mountain goats have appeared.
The mountain camelope is strong build relative of swift-footed camelope Leptocamelus gracilis, graceful runner of Australian plains. This species differ from plain neighbour in shorter legs and neck, and also in larger narrow head. Besides mountain camelope is covered with dense wool that helps to endure cold night of Australian Alps. It is rather medium-sized species - its weathers height is up to 1,2 m, body length is about one and half meters. Back of mountain camelope is inclined forward because back legs of animal are appreciably longer than forward ones – so it is more conveniently to graze on mountain slope. Wool of animal is colored grey with brownish shade; on ridge there is longitudinal black strip which at males is much wider and longer than at females. The hump at these camels is expressed poorly - in middle of back small swelling is appreciable. On chest and basis of neck at animals of both sexes mane of long hairs develops. On head at males very long hairs grow a rich bun. To time of rut a liquid from specific gland located on nape impregnates them – hair help to strengthen smell and to keep it for a long time. At females such hairs are not present; head is covered with short wool. Legs are ended as at all representatives of the order by two hoof-like claws and special skin “pad”; the weight of body falls to end toe phalanxes. For the best cohesion with stone surface leg soles are covered with strongly cornificate skin.
Mountain camelopes live on western slopes of Australian Alps in conditions of cool and rather dry climate. These animals prefer to live in forestless districts not coming to thickets of trees occasionally growing in valleys. They eat grass at times reaching up to plants on very abrupt slopes. Due to features of legs these animals easily jump and swarm up hillsides surviving in places where marsupials of size comparable to them can not live. Teeth of mountain camelope have the special structure: incisors are strongly jutting out forward as if a nipper, and molars grow all life: it is an adaptation to grazing of food plentifully “flavoured” with sand and dust strongly erasing teeth.
These animals live in herds of 10 – 15 ones under the rule of large male leader. He constantly supports the authority in herd with the help of might demonstrations and loud roar. In herd the significant part is presented by mature females and their cubs. At mountain camelopes one cub alternate years is born as a rule. It depends on mother for a long time studying at it to move in mountains and to search for food. Usually it becomes completely independent at the third year of life leaving mother at birth at her of the next cub. The leader of herd does not support youngsters in herd as among them his probable future contenders can grow. When young animal leaves from under parent trusteeship, it has a lot from herd leader forcing young growth to submission. Because sexual maturity at young females comes only at the fourth year they do not represent interest for the main male and also are driven out. Young animals form small herds either mixed or including only young males. At this time the part of young growth perishes from various predators. Such herds of young growth live in boundary territories between areas of breeding herds and occasionally between old and young animals skirmishes happen. When young females become sexual matured, between young males fights for “harem” possession begin. Contenders rear, collide by chests, strike impacts by forward legs in sides and chest of contender and also bite strongly. Thus fighting males loudly roar and sometimes such loud demonstration of ardour serves bad service for them: having heard such roar skilled adult males hasten to these sounds and disperse self-confident young growth adding some young females to own herd. If at the herd “sharing” place two adult males face, fight between them happens severe and frequently results to mutilations or fatal outcome. Sometimes young male can live many years without “harem”, from time to time attempting to “property” of any “married” neighbour. Sometimes such bachelor literally chases herd of the contender trying to deliver from it one or several females.
Mountain camelopes are threatened, as a rule, only with local marsupial predators. If there is no opportunity to rescue in flight, herd can pass to active defense trying to strike predator by forward legs or to bite.
Life expectancy of mountain camelopes can reach 40 years.

Caballocamelus, horse camel (Caballocamelus velox)
Order: Tylopods (Tylopoda)
Family: Camels (Camelidae)

Habitat: savannas and semideserts of Meganesia.

Picture by Carlos Pizcueta (Electreel)

Up to human arrival it was no large running mammal in Australia. Birds and kangaroo were their ecological analogues. The occurrence of camels (Camelus dromedarius) introduced by people had changed the course of evolution of continent inhabitants. Marsupials could not evolve to four-footed quickly running animal, replacing hoofed mammals only from the point of view of ecology. Despite of the competition to camels, they had survived and successfully evolved in Neocenic Meganesia. They avoid a competition to descendants of camels due to feeding by different kinds of forage, and also due to effective digestion of accessible, but poorly nutritious food. As a result descendants of camels had occupied only a part of ecological niches in plains of Australian part of Meganesia. Among them there are camelopes of gracile constitution, and high giraffamels having no competitors in bottom and middle levels of tree tops. But these animals live in districts where there is though any wood vegetation. In plains of Central and Western Meganesia, to the south of the zone of forests and woodlands, another descendant of camels, caballocamelus, the gregarious mammal similar to the horse, lives.
Caballocamelus is a large animal of robust constitution: its withers height is up to 160 cm, and the general length of body is about 3 m. At this animal there is a large head on rather short and strong neck. Jaws are short and have constantly growing teeth, adapted for grinding of rigid graminoids and bush branches. The muzzle is extended to short almost immovable proboscis serving for protection against dust and humidifying of inhaled air.
The hump is small; it is stretched along the back up to waist as the low wide platen. The tail is turned to “fly-brush” having hairy brush on the tip.
The wool of caballocamelus is very short and velvety. On the bottom part of neck at adult animals a lot of lengthened hair similar to beard grows. Colouring of body is yellowish brown; on shoulders and hips there is a small amount of faltering dark strips. On legs of animal there are white “stockings”. At adult animals head is darker, rather than body; at male forehead and nose bridge have coffee-brown color. At young growth the head has the same color as the body, and on legs there is lack of “stockings”.
The foot of typical camel is adapted to rather slow movement on soft ground: toes are widely separated, sheafs between them are lost, and the support falls to some distal phalanxes. At caballocamelus the structure of foot has changed according the adaptation to fast running. Toes of this animal are connected by sinews to each other along almost all length. At young animal sinews are elastic, but to the approach of maturity they ossify. Distal toe phalanxes are thick and covered with “stockings” of thick skin. The characteristic for camels subungius, at which the leg bases, is very small.
This animal lives in dry districts with firm ground, lack of wood vegetation. Caballocamelus quickly runs, accelerating momentum about 50 kms per hour. Its pace at short distances is gallop, at long one it moves by an amble (it is a characteristic pace of typical camels). This species lives in herds numbering 20 – 40 animals.
Caballocamelus eats rigid grasses and can even gnaw prickly branches of bushes. Its three-chambered stomach (inherited from the dromedary, its ancestor) helps to digest such food. Lips covered with dense skin help to feed on prickly plants. In rain season animals can not drink till many days, being content with moisture received from plants. But in dry season these animals visit reservoirs approximately once in three days. The leader of herd knows well all reservoirs in places of inhabiting of herd, and each time animals visit new reservoir for watering.
The herd includes from 1 up to 3 harems leading by dominant males. Each male owns 5 – 10 females; their posterity stays in herd up to the maturity (young males are expelled from the herd a little bit earlier, rather than females). Young females are more often quietly poured in other herds, and single males form herds. Becoming stronger, they try to bereave any adult male of authority. Males of this species are very aggressive in courtship season: they bite each other and beat by forward legs. Skin of the male is thick, especially on shoulders and in the basis of neck – it is the adaptation for intraspecific courtship tournaments. Out of breeding season males treat to each other more tolerantly, but at the watering place harems approach to water in sequence appropriate to rank of the male in herd.
Pregnancy lasts about 10 months; one cub is born always. The female cares of it for a long time, therefore the posterity at the female is born only once in 2 years. The female does not admit neighbours to the newborn cub while it will rise on legs, and some more hours after it. At this time the cub remembers smell and voice of mother. It is very much adhered to mother, and does not depart far from her for a long time. A parental instinct at this species is very strong: in case of need all adult animals of a clan protect the cub; therefore the survival rate of posterity at this species is rather high.

Siberian digger (Paramarmota architector)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Squirrels (Sciuridae)

Habitat: Western Siberia, flat districts, river valleys.
Small animals had gone through mass extinction of the epoch at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene much more successful, rather than large species. Their variety at the level of families remained practically the same, as before the catastrophe; separate genera had died out, but new ones appeared to replace them. Ecological niches occupied by them had remained the same – these are small forest and grassland animals, herbivores and omnivores. Among them also digging forms remain, for example, suslic doggies from three-Rivers-Land steppes. In severe continental climate of Siberia the separate species of digging animals settling in large colonies, Siberian digger, also have appeared. The colonial habit of life provides more successful survival of these animals in conditions of contrast continental climate and severe long winter. This animal descends from one species of suslics inhabited glacial steppes during the congelation at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene.
From the point of view of anatomy Siberian digger represents very large suslic – one average animal weighs up to 3 kg. Ecological analogue of Siberian digger is the marmot – digging animal building extensive underground constructions. The colony of Siberian diggers numbers up to 200 – 300 animals, and they construct under the ground a huge settlement which part is placed at the depth up to 4 – 5 meters, inaccessible for predators.
Settlement of these rodents represents the circuit of underground tunnels supplied with drainage “shafts” and drainage burrows which open in steep riverbank and can stretch to tens meters from edge of colony. It is necessary for protection of colony in spring from thawed snow. Besides exits to the surface are made as high (up to two meters) earthen hills with an entrance at the top. At snow thawing in them only a little of ice-cold water will get. From these hills the good view opens, therefore in summer at tops of hills “sentries” – males from among defenders of a colony –are constantly on duty.
Except for earthen hills – entrances to the colony, presence of colony is marked by the bushes and young trees damaged by rodents. Siberian diggers influence a landscape as essentially, as large herbivores like obda or shurga: within the limits of their colonies trees survive hardly (they are simply chewed at the sprout stage). But above colonies of diggers graminoids and other plants, bearing drier ground (presence of drainage system in colonies has an effect) and constant “shear” of them by these rodents, prosper. Forager individuals from colony also make sorties for the forage in thickets of bushes and forest.
Siberian diggers are animals having well expressed caste system and obvious intraspecific polymorphism. Like Neocenic castle rabbits from New Zealand or naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) from Africa of Holocene epoch, these animals are divided to castes. The caste system is not fixed genetically, and depends on age and position of animal in hierarchy of colony. At these rodents there is large head with very short ears, able to wrap when the animal moves in hole. The trunk of Siberian digger is covered with rich velvety fur similar a little to mole fur: hairs grow vertically, and do not prevent movement in hole forward or back. The fur of animal is colored brown with small amount of white spots on back and shoulders. On head of adult males there is an area of white fur on sides of head and around of eyes. Depending on position of animal in hierarchy colouring of fur may vary strongly.
Paws of Siberian digger are short, with wide feet, having edge of rigid hairs –it is convenient to rake away the ground by such paws during the digging. Tail is short, with white tip. Tail lifted upwards is an alarm signal, well appreciable even from among grass.
The caste system of Siberian diggers includes some categories of animals:
1) “King” and “queen” – breeding pair of large fertile animals. But the amount of these animals is not limited, as at insects. In large colony occurrence of several “queens”, which are fertilized by one or two “kings”, is possible. If two “kings” meet in tunnels of colony, between them severe combat is possible, but usually “king” does not leave from the centre of colony. From these animals all posterity of colony descends.
“Queen” represents the individual which almost continuously gives rise or brings up young growth. It lives in special chamber; it and its posterity are looked after by some females from the number of “nurses”. “Queen” is very large – it is approximately twice larger than the adult forager female. At it milk glands are strongly advanced, and it almost continuously produces milk (except for second half of pregnancy). Because of it “queen” requires a plenty of juicy forages, and “nurses” additionally give it to drink, dragging water from drainage “shafts” or from the nearest reservoir in cheek pouches. Fertility of “queen” is about 15 naked, blind and helpless cubs in one litter. In some days after cub birth it is ready to become pregnant again. For one year “queen” makes up to five litters. “Queen” can not look after itself and posterity independently; it is only able to creep hardly in the chamber. If in spring thawed snow fills in chambers where “queens” live, they perish, being not able to escape.
“King” is the large fertile male with normal proportions of body, able to serve itself independently. It freely moves in colony, independently eats in “pantries” and searches for “queens” ready to fertilisation. At this male sexual attributes in colouring of wool are obviously expressed: on head around of eyes and on cheeks areas of white wool develop. Also “king” has repugnatorial glands: it has a specific smell which influences other males and suppresses sexual behaviour at them.
2) “Soldiers” – aggressive adult males. They are in condition of constant stress because of presence of “king” in colony. The stress causes in them formation of plenty of adrenaline, and hormonal changes lead to irreversible changes in their appearance. Incisors and jaws of “soldiers” become large; therefore the head of such individuals looks disproportionately big relatively to the body. Sexual function at them is suppressed from the childhood, especially if they developed in conditions of density in the centre of colony. These animals can hardly eat independently because of hypertrophied jaws; more often young individuals from “nurses” caste feed and clean them. But at an attack on colony they leave on surface the first, and furiously attack any animal had disturbed them, even such large one, as obda or shurga. At the edges of colony where the stress is less, features of “soldier” at males are less expressed, and among them fertile individuals, from whom new “kings” may grow, frequently meet.
Colouring of “soldier” is actually warning: at them there is almost completely white head with dark marks on forehead and nape, and white spots on shoulders are very big. Such colouring is well remembered by animals which had undergone to attack of “soldiers” of colony, and forces them to keep farther from these animals.
3) “Foragers” and “nurses” – females of various ages. Adult and old females are foragers. They constantly gather forages and drag them in holes serving as “pantries”. These animals are able to feed and look after themselves independently. Young females have function of “nurses” – they look after “queens” and “soldiers”, clean and feed them. At them the parent instinct is early expressed, but it equally quickly fades. If in the short period of maturing the female was not fertilized, it becomes the forager. Young “nurses” have opportunity to become “queens”, if they will be fertilized within first three months of life. At pregnancy there is a hormonal reorganization of the organism, and young female develops to “queen” occupied with reproduction.
If the colony becomes too large, in it “diarchy” can arise: at the edge of colony the young male (from among the individuals less subject to stress) and the female ready to breeding from the number of “nurses” can create new breeding family. If founders of colony perish, their place is occupied quickly by individuals from among young ones. Frequently young males from other colonies come in colony. They lodge at edges, and also can become founders of new “dynasty”.
Siberian diggers eat exclusively vegetative food. Everything, that can be stored within winter, is reserved in special chambers serving as “pantries”. These are tubers and rhizomes of plants, and also seeds of graminoids. Daily food of animals in summer includes young branches of bushes, greenery and roots; the autumn adds to them fruits of various plants. Foragers of this species carry food in cheek pouches. In them there are no salivary glands, therefore the transporting forage stays dry and does not spoil in winter.
In winter activity of colony is reduced: animals spend the most part of day in dream. When bad frosts come, all colony runs to true hibernation, at which the body temperature of animals is strongly reduced, and vital processes are inhibited. At this time even development of embryos at breeding females stops. Due to this feature consumption of forages does not increase, and the colony successfully exists up to the end of spring when there is an opportunity to pass to fresh forage. When snow thaws, flooding of the part of colony is possible, but the majority of animals usually survives. When all difficulties are left behind, and in nature there is enough of fresh vitamin forage, in colony the burst of birth rate takes place. The care of posterity raises survival rate of young growth, and damage, caused to the colony by predators and weather, is restored.
Life expectancy of foragers and “soldiers” seldom exceeds three years, but “kings” and “queens” can live till ten years and more.

Stripe-tailed squirrel (Callurosciurus fasciatus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Squirrels (Sciuridae)

Habitat: Honshu Island (Japan Archipelago), tropical rainforest.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

It is difficult to name squirrels as “living fossils”, because this group of rodents is widely settled on the Earth and inhabits various biomes – from deserts up to tropical forests. However, long before human appearing squirrels were already quite recognizeable animals and their very successful body plan was kept from Oligocene. The majority of squirrel species, except for inhabitants of tropical forests and not numerous local species, has successfully gone through human epoch, and in Neocene their species are as numerous and various, as in pre-human epoch of Cenozoic.
In Japan Islands numerous species belonging to endemic for these islands genus Callurosciurus live. Their typical representative is stripe-tailed squirrel, the owner of spectacular tail. The area of this species includes tropical rainforests at the east of Honshu Island. This species has all typical features of genus. The body length of stripe-tailed squirrel is rather small – no more than 15 cm. But tail of this creature is very remarkable: its length is more than 20 cm; it is cross-striped, black-and-white, as at common lemur (Lemur catta) of human epoch. Tail of stripe-tailed squirrel is rather thin, but covered with rich wool and looks as cylindrical-shaped one. It is used as the balance weight at climbing and jumps, but its basic function is a little bit other – with the help of tail this squirrel declares to the congeners that the territory is occupied, and also gives other signals. Similarly to all representatives of genus, stripe-tailed squirrels are very territorial animals. Each individual chooses a site in forest canopy, carefully marks its borders with nibbled areas of bark and odorous marks, and jealously protects the occupied territory against intrusion of congeners.
Body of stripe-tailed squirrel is colored not as distinctly, as tail is. The basic background of body colouring is grey with small brown specks. On head there is a white “mask” covering forehead, top and lateral parts of head. Colouring of ears sharply contrasts with this background: ears are black and edged with red hair. Such colouring is well appreciable among foliage, and squirrel could become easy prey for predators. However these animals have effective system of the notification of congeners. In spite of the fact that stripe-tailed squirrel does not endure the presence of congeners in the territory, it constantly exchanges sound signals with them. Having noticed a predator, squirrel utters alarm signal – shrill thin peeping. It is well known to all inhabitants of tree crones, and stripe-tailed squirrels are among the main informants about presence of predators in forests of Japan Islands. Having heard alarm signal of the congener, each individual repeats it necessarily. Duration of repeated signal depends on loudness of heard sound, therefore it is possible to define approximately where there is a predator noticed by them, listening voices of squirrels.
Stripe-tailed squirrels arrange dreys on trees. They have completely passed from life in hollows, and only build their own dreys. These rodents belong to number of the most skilful builders among mammals. They plait spherical dreys, remotely similar to nests of weaverbirds, on tips of long shaken branches. Building its drey, squirrel bends branch in a ring and connects it with vegetative fibres, or plaits to each other the lateral branches growing on it. This ring becomes a basis of nest. New branches forming a skeleton of nest are added to it, and space between them is braided with fibrous stalks of fern fronds or leaves of epiphytic plants. From inside the drey is covered with leaves. The drey entrance is located below, but the narrow corridor stretches along lateral wall and opens in the top part of nest.
Stripe-tailed squirrels do not form constant breeding pairs. Pairing tales place at any time of year, but most intensively two times per year: in spring and in the middle of summer. Males leave their territories and search for females ready to breeding. Females constantly mark borders of territories with urine, and its smell helps the male to determine, whether it is possible to be coupled to this or that female. Male courtship actions have formal character – it pursues the female and tries to catch her tail. If to it succeeds to do it (accepting male courtship, female allows it to make it), fast pairing follows, after which female banishes male. Nevertheless, male keeps for some time on border of her territory, driving away any contenders. When female loses interest to male courthship, its urine gets other smell and male, feeling it, leaves borders of her territory.
Having built a drey, female uses it for some years, constantly renewing and repairing, but then abandons it. In litter it may usually be up to 5 – 6 cubs. They grow quickly, and at the age of 2 months already become completely independent. As against adult individuals, at young animals the tail has no black-and-white strips – it is almost completely grey with light tip. Also head has no white “mask” which appears only closer to the time of sexual maturity (at the age of 4 – 5 months).
Life expectancy of this species in nature can reach 4 – 5 years, but the majority of animals does not live up to the third year of life.
Flame-tailed squirrel (Callurosciurus flammeocauda) is the most spectacular representative of genus. Its native land is the area of tropical forests of Shikoku Island. Body of this squirrel is black on back and sides; top of head, nose and sides of head are white, stomach is rusty-red. Tail looks very impressively: it is deep red; tip is yellow passing to white. Declaring rights to its territory, flame-tailed squirrel raises tail and trembles it. Thus it utters shrill high-frequency squeak; and some birds and predatory mammals can not endure it. This species of squirrels arranges drey, braiding two branches of near growing trees. In the beginning of drey construction squirrel should show miracles of acrobatic skills. Hanging on the branch, squirrel shakes it and tries to grasp a branch of near growing tree. When it succeeds to do it, squirrel gnaws out from one branch narrow strip of fibres and ties both branches together with it. After it I done, squirrel starts building of typical spherical drey between them.
Long-tailed squirrel (Callurosciurus longicauda) is one of large species of this genus, widespread in tropical and warm to temperate forests of eastern side of Honshu Island. The length of its body is about 20 cm, and very long striped tail reaches half-meter length. Body of this squirrel is grey and has glaucescent shade; along both sides wide black strips stretch. There is the same strip on each side of head – it stretches from tip of nose through eye up to the basis of ear. On neck and shoulders strip is fuzzy, turning to dark grey spot, and appears again on sides. Tail of this species is white with red tip.
Reed squirrel (Callurosciurus calamophila) lives in swampy forests at the east of Honshu Island and prefers to keep in thickets of reed instead of trees. It is a tiny species: body length of adult individual does not exceed 10 cm; tail is of the same length. Body of this squirrel has grey colouring with several longitudinal strips of rusty red color on nape, neck and back. Ears and nose bridge, and also hands and feet are colored black. Tail sharply contrasts with body in colouring: it is snow-white with bright red tip. Declaring the rights to territory, this squirrel hangs upside down on reed stalk, uttering thin squeak and having raised tail up. Drey of this squirrel represents a kind of ball of reed plaited very densely and littered with vegetative fibres.
In mountain forests of Honshu Island golden-tailed squirrel (Callurosciurus chrysocaudata) lives; it is the largest and hardy species. The length of body of this species reaches 40 cm; tail is about 50 cm long. The adult animal of this species weighs about 1,5 kg. This is an animal of heavier constitution, than heat-loving species inhabiting tropical forests: it has rather large head and shorter ears and paws. Golden-tailed squirrel lives in coniferous and deciduous forests in mountains of island where snow in winter lays, and eats seeds, buds and young shoots of wood plants. In summer it willingly eats mushrooms growing on trunks of old trees. Wool on body of this species is colored grey with glaucescent shade, darker on back. Tail is straw-coloured with black tip. Also ears of animal and “eyebrows” above eyes are colored black. Voice of this animal is similar to bark of small dog, and warns other animals of presence of predatory birds and mammals.

Cutter squirrel (Gravisciurus forfex)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Squirrels (Sciuridae)

Habitat: mixed forests of Central and Southern Europe.
Genus of true squirrels (Sciurus) had proved the viability and evolutionary success. Having evolved in Oligocene, these rodents have successfully gone through epoch of anthropogenous pressure – only some local endemic species and species sensitive to anthropogenous influence had died out. The majority of squirrel species had kept sufficient number and after disappearance of mankind in forests their various descendants had appeared.
The descendant of common squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) widespread in whole Eurasia in human epoch lives in European forests; it is very large cutter squirrel. It has kept a significant amount of attributes of ancestral species, differing greatly only in size and heavier constitution. Its color of wool is the same as at ancestor, but on red background on hips darker spots are scattered, and white tip of tail is shaded with a belt of brown color. Also this animal has dark ears.
Paws of cutter squirrel are rather shorter and thicker, rather than at squirrels of human epoch. But tail of this rodent is longer, than at an ancestor, and is covered with long fluffy wool.
Cutter squirrel is one of the largest species of forest animals of non-tropical part of Eurasia. The length of its body is about 50 cm, and weight reaches 3 kgs. The increase of body size is connected to features of its diet. This species of squirrels eats vegetative food only: since spring up to late autumn basically leaves and thin branches, and conifer needles in winter. After feeding of these rodents the tree looks clipped awkwardly – if the family of cutter squirrels stays on it for a long time, they eat a significant part of young shoots which they can reach. The inhabited tree, however, is never eaten round, and dung is dumped on the ground from near growing trees frequently growing in tens meters from the location of drey. Bacteria helping rodents to acquire nutrients from rough forage live in a stomach and intestines of these squirrels. Due to large caecum these squirrels can digest conifer needles. Oils and resinous substances are not acquired by them; therefore in winter dung of cutter squirrel has characteristic resinous smell.
Cutter squirrel lives in small groups: male, female and 1 or 2 recent litters. The group occupies territory of about 15 square kilometers. Here on strongest trees some dreys changing by pair of parent animals before birth of the next litter are located.
Drey of these squirrels represents massive construction of bound rods and split branches. Incisors of these rodents are strong enough to bite off branches up to one centimeter thick and to split them lengthways. The drey entrance is placed near the trunk; therefore it is difficult to get there even for these animals. But it gives additional protection against predators, because it is difficult for them to make the way in drey of these rodents. Inside the drey there are some inhabited chambers littered with soft foliage and grass.
Because of their large size cutter squirrels climb not as dexterously, as their ancestors. In manner of movement they resemble more monkeys or lemurs: they run on four paws along horizontal branches and make rare jumps. When animals move, tails are raised vertically and contrastly painted tip is visible. During the feeding these squirrels sit on hinder legs and tail hangs downwards.
The courtship season at this species is very long, but animals show the greatest activity since January till May. Pregnancy lasts till about 35 days, in litter there are 3 – 4 cubs. In northern parts of area usually there is only one litter per one year, in southern parts there are two ones. Mother feeds the posterity with milk till approximately one and half month, and till about one month young animals keep with parents. They reach sexual maturity at one and a half years. Life expectancy makes till 20 years.

This species of mammals was discovered by Nick, the forum member.

Beringean mountain squirrel (Tamiasciurus beringea)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Squirrels (Scuiridae)

Habitat: mountain forests of Beringia, northwest of North America.
Similarly to many other rodents, various squirrels, including North American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) have rather safely gone through the period of anthropogenous pressure at the end of Holocene. Climatic changes which had shifted southern border of coniferous forests zone farther to the south appeared very favourable for this species.
But the ice age is a temporary phenomenon, and after thawing of glacier various deciduous trees had started to spread to the north, having pushed coniferous forests of North America closer to polar areas, and also to the west, to Beringia. The part of the population of American red squirrel had receded to these forests where had evolved to new species – to Beringean mountain squirrel.
Beringean mountain squirrel is rather large rodent – males weigh 350 – 400 grams, females up to 300 – 350 g. It grows up to 25 – 30 centimeters long with fluffy tail of the same length. On body fur is also longer and fluffier, rather than at ancestor, even in summer because of colder climate in their inhabitancy – northern and mountain (even high-mountainous) coniferous forests.
As against the ancestor, Beringean mountain squirrel is not red, and most likely bluish-gray, like a color of stones and dark needles of trees in its inhabitancy; also it has kept lighter belly, characteristic for its ancestor, and white rings around of eyes have increased to large light spots on cheeks. On ears of these squirrels short signal brushes of darker color grow, and at sexually mature males also there is a dark strip along back; occasionally there are melanistic individuals.
Beringean mountain squirrel is easily adapting animal with diverse diet. It eats seeds of many species of coniferous trees, also some berries, mushrooms, various insects and spiders, and ravages nests of small birds. This species equally freely feels like both on trees, and on the ground therefore it has superseded from northwest of North America various chipmunks conceding to Beringean mountain squirrel in force and quickness.
This squirrel lives on trees where it builds a typical squirrel drey of branches of conifers, or occupies empty bird nest, reconstructing it as it needs. From within this drey is warmed by female’s underfur, and in spring female gives birth up to 5 – 6 blind and helpless cubs; she brings them up alone and looks after them within 2 months. Elder cubs remain with mother, but study to search for food and to escape from enemies. At the age of 5 months squirrel cubs become independent and leave her, and to one-year-old age they become sexually mature. While female looks after posterity, male stays in her territory, gathering food and feeding up the female. When cubs leave drey, male joins family. When the posterity leaves the female, male also goes away from female’s territory.
Beringean mountain squirrel is sociable enough animal. Breeding pairs living in neighbourhood relate to each other loyally enough, but in courtship period between solitary males rather severe fights break out, accompanied by very painful bites and long pursuits in tree crones.
If Beringian mountain squirrel will be eaten by nobody (and it is a prey of various small and medium-sized predatory mammals and birds of coniferous forests in mountains of Beringia), it can live up to 7 – 8 years.
To the east from Beringia, in northern forests of North America the species related to Beringean mountain squirrel lives – taiga squirrel (Tamiasciurus borealis). It differs from the mountain relative in more habitual red color of wool, but in the rest it is practically similar to previous species. Only white marks on its head are larger, and wool on stomach is snow-white.

This species of mammals was discovered by Bhut, the forum member.

Farmer hamster (Agrocricetus agricola)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Hamsters (Cricetidae)

Habitat: steppes of Southern Europe (Three-Rivers-Land) to the east up to Southern Ural and Central Asia.
Rodents are the most numerous global widespread order of mammals. Their species increased variety till all Cenozoic era and had got advantage in Holocene. Human economic activity in many cases promoted prosperity of rodents. People superseded and destroyed wild hoofed mammals, ploughed steppes and cultivated large plantations of graminoids. People had also exterminated many feathered and four-footed predators, and it had favoured to breeding of separate species of rodents. They grasped new habitats freely, getting of advantage from human activity.
In Neocene extensive spaces in Southern Europe, Middle and Central Asia had turned to grassy plains in which local herbivores graze. Their typical representatives are steppe species of harelopes and massive porcippula similar to heavy-build pony. They “cut” steppe grasses by teeth, but do it not everywhere. Here and there in steppe sites are located, where the grass is much denser and higher rather than usually. Graminoids in these places differ in rather massive ears rocking in the wind – it is a separate species, the descendant of feral wheat many MY ago cultivated by people. These thickets differ in strict monotony - among them plants of other species are practically absent. Obviously, these plants were specially selected and carefully protected - such sites are precisely separated from other grasses. Local herbivores for any reasons avoid eating this grass which looks much more appetizing, than everywhere.
The puzzle is disclosed very simply when among high grasses there are small stumpy mammals with rich longitudinal – striped fur of gray-brown color. It wanders in thickets of high grasses, from time to time stopping and breaking off stems lasting among grasses. This is one decision of some puzzles at once: the rodent really looks after this graminoids. Actually, these thickets represent its extensive fodder site. And due to it the animal is named farmer hamster.
This animal is a little bit smaller, rather than common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), the usual inhabitant of Eurasian steppes of Holocene epoch. Probably, it is its descendant though it is possible, that its ancestor could be one of small species of Central-Asian hamsters. Colouring of farmer hamster combines two patterns. The top side of body of this animal is cryptically colored: on gray-brown background narrow black strips stretch. Having dropped to the ground, this animal becomes completely imperceptible from afar for feathered and four-footed predators. Coloring of stomach strongly differs from coloring of the back: on stomach and cheeks there are wide cross black strips on white background. This coloring becomes appreciable from apart when this small mammal rears to eat something or simply to look round. At this animal there is constitution typical for hamsters: large head, short thick trunk and very short tail, hardly appreciable among wool.
This mammal differs in unique strategy of survival. It not simply gathers seeds of plants which serve as food to it, and specially creates conditions for their growth. It carefully keeps up a site of steppe around of the hole and in summer selectively eats plants which do not belong to graminoids. As the result at the “allotment” occupied by this hamster amounting about one hundred square meters graminoids grow well, providing the hamster by grain for winter. More often at sites of farmer hamster the hamster wheat grows – it is the special genus of graminoids again “cultivated” by the hamster after people and actually entered symbiosis relations. In summer seeds of graminoids have not ripened yet, and animal eats grass – weeds growing at its site. Also it eats various insects, involuntarily relieving fodder graminoids from wreckers. In the autumn when seeds of grasses ripen, farmer hamster gathers “crop”: it chooses the ripest ears and carefully husks them, scattering dust on site and carrying off in burrow well cleared grain. Gradually at the territory “cultivated” for a long time graminoids start to grow especially well, and obviously prevail of other plants.
Farmer hamster also fertilizes ground with dung – it does not have specially removed “toilet”, and the part of mineral substances comes back in ground with its dung. Only in winter it leaves dung in special chamber of hole, and throws it out outside in common with used litter in spring - it additionally fertilizes ground in the territory this way.
Well-groomed sites of these mammals are favourite object of attention from the part of other grain and grass lovers. At sites of farmer hamster in autumn birds feed, and large herbivores occasionally visit them. But the farmer hamster can render their repulse: despite of small growth, it is very much martial creature. It frightens off smaller pilferers by loud squeals and high jumps. Thus small mammal strongly puffs cheek pouches to seem larger. Such reception does not work against the large herbivorous animals: they are strong enough simply to crush this animal by hoof. But the hamster uses one more effective means of protection against them: it lies down on back, showing to the uninvited visitor contrastly colored belly, and shrilly squeals. If threat has not worked, it sprinkles to the stranger stinky substances from strongly advanced anal glands similarly to skunk.
The specific habit of life had transformed this animal to even greater “homebody”, rather than hamsters of Holocene epoch. But it does not avoid the society of neighbours, and prefers to settle in rarefied colonies. In total “allotments” of different individuals of this species gather to the colony rather closely to each other - their borders are divided with some meters. In the center of colony there are “allotments” of strongest individuals – they are richest and better protected from herbivores. But in the centre of colony lack of place is sharply felt, and for each superfluous plot of land a real battle takes place. Individuals at edges of colonies feel first that they are not unique local herbivores. But it is possible for them to expand their “allotment”, having “cultivated” more parts of steppe. The certain balance and order in a colony is reached so.
Outside of breeding season each individual diligently marks borders of the territory, sprinkling on grass secretions of anal glands. Only being ready for pairing the female can leave the site to meet the male – in any other time it would meet her with bites of sharp incisors. In courtship season the fodder site is an original secondary sexual attribute: the female chooses the male for pairing looking the size and “cultivating” degree of its allotments. After pairing female returns to the site and rears posterity itself. Within one summer the female rears two – three hatches of 4 – 6 cubs. The most part of young animals settled from colony can not find suitable site, and perishes in teeth and claws of local predators. To the autumn survived young hamsters find site for life, and gather in hole the first stock for winter – basically seeds of wild-growing grasses. In autumn the farmer hamster fattens up intensively and grows fat strongly: fat may make up to half of weight of animal.
In winter farmer hamster falls into deep hibernation: the temperature of its body is reduced practically up to an ambient temperature, and pulse decreases up to several beatings per minute. Some times for winter animal wakes up to eat some of seeds from the stocks. It is awake till some hours, yet will empty intestines completely, and then falls runs into hibernation again.
Though farmer hamsters are convinced and bilious egoists, all of them keep the contact with each other: between their holes there are burrows connecting them to whole system. To tell the truth, more often other steppe animals dig these courses, but hamsters willingly use them. In such tunnels animals leave from chasing of predators. Being on the ground surface, animals “communicate” with each other with the help of whistling, as suslics. In such way they warn each other of occurrence of predator – usually steppe eagleraven or predatory mammal zibetonyx hunt them.
The biggest complexity in life of farmer hamster is derivated by its habit of life, to be more exact – by the way of “agriculture”. At their sites only the unique species of graminoids frequently grow, therefore animals endure heavy time when cultivated plants are attacked with illnesses and parasites. On “hamster wheat” the ergot fungus grows often. But small ergot infection of graminoids does not harm to animal – when this fungus appears, hamster specially searches for such ears, chews fungus off from them eats. Ergot poison renders intoxicating effect to these rodents – in the beginning animal becomes easily excitable and aggressive, then gets into the hole and sleeps for a long time. The activity of farmer hamster constrains the distribution of ergot, but at mass disease of graminoids they can not cope with it, and the part of crop perishes. After flare up of plant desease in colonies of farmer hamsters the famine comes, and number of populations may decrease in tens times. And in such situation the part of colony members simply leaves on new places where new “plantations” appear in some years.

This species of animals is discovered by Momus, the forum member.

Whistling hamster (Buccacricetus stridor)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Hamsters (Cricetidae)

Habitat: steppes of Tree-Rivers-Land, thickets of grasses.
Some species of rodents had received great advantages in survival in human epoch. Expansion of agricultural areas had allowed them to settle widely; the cultivating of cereals had provided constant and uninterrupted source of food, and human presence and its activity had strongly reduced number of predators in habitats of rodents. Disappearance of mankind has restored natural balance of environment during several hundreds thousand years – the extensive areas of monocultures had disappeared, predators had appeared, and gradual formation of new ecosystems instead of ones destroyed by people began. Evolution had gone in the natural way again, and at new species of animals new adaptations for survival began to develop.
In extensive steppes of Tree-Rivers-Land reaching along northern and eastern coasts of Fourseas, rodents are prevailing group of mammals. Quickly evolving, they had formed many species, differing by requirements to inhabitancy. Representatives of hamster family differ from other rodents by ability to gather the large stock of forage for winter. One of their species, farmer hamster, even is engaged in original “cultivating” of one species of graminoids on its fodder area. But other hamsters lead more traditional way of life.
Many predators live in steppes. One of widely widespread species is zibetonyx, cursorial species of viverrids, the most northern species of this family. It represents danger to many small rodents, but one of the large hamsters, living in steppe, is not afraid of its attack: it is armed with sharp incisors and is able to protect itself. This species is whistling hamster.
Whistling hamster is rather large rodent: the length of its body is about 40 centimeters, and weight reaches 2 kgs. By appearance it is similar to other hamsters: it is short-legged and massive one with large head. Its wool on back, nape and top part of neck has camouflage color – golden-yellow with darker faltering longitudinal strips. The bottom part of body sharply differs by colouring: stomach and forward part of head are white with sparse black spots.
The most remarkable feature of whistling hamster is its cheek pouches. Usually they are used for dragging stocks of forage to the hole, but at the attack they are used in completely unusual mode. The aggressive animal rears on hind legs and starts to puff cheek pouches. Their skin is very extensable, and due to it this rodent seems larger and more impressive. And then remembered colouring of wool is expressed in full degree – on skin covering cheek pouches - cross-striped pattern becomes visible. Skin under wool is also pigmented at the places where black hairs grow; therefore this pattern stays appreciable, even when cheek pouches are puffed completely. This is the first warning to predator. Usually it is enough to the skilled predator to stop getting into touch with this rodent. If attempts of attack proceed, hamster contracts ring muscles encircling cheek pouches, and blows them off. Thus loud whistle is hearing. This is more powerful prevention to predators. After that hamster rushes on the enemy and seizes it by incisors. It happens, these animals attack even porcippulas – large and harmless herbivores.
Whistling hamsters live solitarily in rather extensive territories – between holes of separate individuals there is a distance not less than 200 meters. Warning relatives that the territory is occupied, the owner of territory whistles from time to time, puffing cheek pouches. Having heard its whistling, neighbours usually also respond.
This hamster gathers seeds of graminoids in its extensive individual territory, and to the end of an autumn it gathers in underground “pantry” up to 30 kgs of grain. In addition to it, animal digs out and eats tubers and rhizomes of various plants, a part from which it also drags to “pantry”. To winter this hamster is strongly eaten off and runs into hibernation when autumn rains begin, changed further by light frost and snow. For winter it wakes up many times and eats a part of the stocks. In spring whistling hamster searches mushrooms growing in steppe, and eats up the rests of winter stocks. Usually they suffice up to growth of young grass.
In spring the courtship season begins at these rodents. Demonstration of puffed cheek pouches and whistling are important elements of courtship ritual of whistling hamster. Usually male comes itself to the territory of female ready to pairing and starts to court after her, following her with blown up cheek pouches and whistling. If near one female some males meet, they arrange a kind of “duel”, trying to whistle louder and longer, than the competitor. If it does not help to define superiority, combat begins.
Within one year the female gives rise to 2 litters of 3 – 4 cubs. Young animals of the second litter winter together with the female and in common prepare forage in autumn. The young growth of summer litter has time to find territory suitable for life, to dig a hole and to prepare enough amount of food for successful wintering. The next spring young animals from both litters can take part in breeding.

The idea about existence of this species of animals was proposed by Simon, the forum member.

Ayapuh (Pseudolutra ayapuh)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Neoichthyomyids (Neoichthyomyidae)

Habitat: the south of South America, Tierra del Fuego, Pacific coast.
In human epoch otters were the basic predatory mammals of fresh water reservoirs. These animals were widely settled at all continents, except for Australia and Antarctica. One species of otters had developed sea habitats in northern part of Pacific Ocean. But in human epoch destruction of habitats and hunting for otters for the sake of fur had reduced their number in great degree, and they had not survived to Neocene. After human disappearance at various continents the ecological niche of otters was occupied by animals from various systematic groups. In South America otterodents, descendants of fish-eating hamsters of genus Ichthyomys, became the most successful ones in development of aquatic inhabitancy. Various species of these large carnivorous animals have mastered reservoirs of various types, from tropics up to Tierra del Fuego.
Ayapuh is one of otterodent species, which, as against the majority of species of this group, lives in brackish and sea water. The name of this animal is a name of otter from fairy tales of Indians of Tierra del Fuego. Ayapuh does not concede Amazonian otterodent in length, but differs in more massive and thickset constitution. It has short and wide tail of rounded outlines, large body, short neck and heavy head: it is connected to necessity of heat preservation in conditions of colder climate. Fur of ayapuh has rusty-brown color; at separate animals lower jaw and throat are white, but more often between forepaws there is only small white spot. Fur of ayapuh is very rich. The animal looks after it for a long time and greases it plentifully with secretions of glands located in armpits. Due to care fur gets additional water-repellent properties and keeps the air layer saving animal from overcooling under water in winter time.
Hands, feet and tail of animal are covered with short thin hair, and through naked skin animal could lose a lot of heat. But in paws and tail blood vessels form a countercurrent system which helps to keep heat.
The dental system of ayapuh is typical for rodents – it includes two pairs of sharp incisors of reddish-orange color representing its main instrument of getting of food and protection against enemies. The length of incisors in lower jaw of animal reaches 7 centimeters. For search of food ayapuh can dive to depth up to 20 – 30 meters. Swimming under water, animal makes wavy movements by backbone in vertical plane. Main movement bodies at this species are flattened tail and webby hinder legs. Animal uses forepaws to feel sea bottom and to overturn stones in searches of prey. Ayapuh frequently hunts near to large herbivorous mammals algocetuses when families of these animals are fed in thickets of seaweed. At this time ayapuh catches fishes and crustaceans frightened at movements of giants. Also strong teeth allow ayapuh eating echinoderms – sea urchins and starfishes.
Under water animal searches for prey with the help of sight, but in muddy water or in twilight it uses long sensitive whiskers.
Ayapuh is social species: this animal settles at sea coast in small groups including up to five breeding pairs and several single individuals, young or old. Breeding pair at ayapuh forms to some breeding seasons, and sometimes is kept till whole life. Animals look after one after another, clearing fur of the partner, or feeding it up with a part of prey.
In storm ayapuh hides between stones and in natural shelters like caves. Only for posterity care female builds a hole, digging it with the help of forepaws. It frequently simply digs holes built by sea birds, expands and converts them.
Once a year, in spring (in Southern Hemisphere in October – beginning of November), female brings posterity – from two to four blind and deaf cubs covered with short wool. They quickly acquire rich wool, but begin to hear only at the age of 5 days, and eyes open at them at the age of 8 – 9 days. At monthly age cubs start to leave their shelter; and bi-monthly ones study swimming. At the age of two years young female is ready to breeding. Life expectancy reaches 17 – 20 years.

Hawaiian bamboo rat (Bambusiphagomys tector)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Murines (Muridae)

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Habitat: bamboo woods of east slopes of mountains on Big Island (Hawaii).
In human epoch birds dwelt on Hawaiian Islands were a fine example of adaptive radiation - the phenomena at which from one ancestor many descendants evolve. They are connected by relationship, but adapted to different inhabitancies and having various shape. But indigenous species of Hawaiian fauna have irrevocably died out, not having sustained a competition with newcomer species introduced by people. And newcomers, in turn, roughly began to evolve, showing on the example of the same evolutionary phenomenon.
Three species of rats have got to Hawaii on human fault: black (Rattus rattus), brown (R. norvegicus) and indigenous Pacific rat (R. exulans). The third species was quickly superseded by descendants of larger neighbours, and had died out till several subsequent thousand years. But two remained species had actively evolved, having given many various descendants distinguished by appearance, behavior and habit of life. Descendants of brown rats became mainly ground animals, and black rat – wood inhabitants.
A few species of mammals live in bamboo woods. In this place it is difficult to move quickly - trunks of bamboo form almost solid walls, and between them the large animal simply cannot walk through. But smaller species of rodents, adapted to existence in this original biotope, prosper. At first it is difficult to find out about presence of these small mammals in dense bamboo wood, but gradually these animals find themselves out. They run on wood litter, rearing from time to time among trunks, and showing improbable, practically squirrel-like speed, climb up on smooth and firm stalks of this graminoid where even for cat it would be difficult to seize against something. It is the Hawaiian bamboo rat, the descendant of black rat (Rattus rattus).
Hawaiian bamboo rats are small rodents, like only the young grey rat by size. They have kept the appearance typical for representatives of family, but have got some features, permitting to survive in specific biotope. Representatives of this genus of rodents meet exclusively in bamboo thickets, and are not found anywhere more. On each island of archipelago there is the species of these rats distinguished from others in size and features of coloring.
The Hawaiian bamboo rat dexterously swarms up stalks of bamboo. It has tenacious claws, but it is not enough to it to show such quickness like it swarms up trunks of bamboo. On palms and feet of rodent the skin forms small holes acting like suckers. With their help rat can quickly run on smooth trunks of bamboo. To improve action of suckers, sudoriferous glands on their edges are hypertrophied, and allocate stickier secret providing the best sticking to trunk.
The short wool of the rat is colored yellowish – brown. On back of rodent there are dark longitudinal stripes – they mask this animal in the world of vertical trunks of bamboo. The amount of strips and their pattern considerably vary at different individuals.
Hawaiian bamboo rat completely depends mainly on large species of bamboo with thick trunks. Such choice of habitat is connected with the fact that all species of Hawaiian bamboo rats arrange shelters, simply gnawing out apertures in ripen hollow trunks of bamboo. After rats birds use their tree-trunk hollow: on Hawaii there are no woodpeckers, and, except for rodents, there is nobody able to make tree-trunk hollows here. And the natural tree-trunk hollows formed in trunks of some trees, does not suffice for all. Therefore some birds depend on well-being of bamboo rats.
This rodent has one more important “duty”: because these rats eat young sprouts of bamboo, they thin out thickets of this graminoid in such way. To gnaw hollows and to chew firm stalks of bamboo, at this rodent large incisors and short strong jaws were developed. Cheekbones of this rodent are wide, and jaw muscles are very strong.
All bamboo rats are solitary animals preserving the territory from neighbours. Only during breeding season males can come in territory of females for pairing. Usually per one year at the female it happens three litters of 5 - 6 cubs. They are born naked and blind, but develop rather quickly. Bi-monthly animals leave mother, and search to themselves for suitable place for life. Usually in territory of each adult animal it happens some shelters gnawed in trunks of bamboo, and young animals frequently lodge in them, choosing ones in which the lawful owner of territory was not for a long time.
Trunks of bamboo are very strong, and animals settling in them are perfectly protected from many enemies. But occasionally the population of Hawaiian bamboo rats has not best times. During flowering of bamboo (one - two times per one century) number of Hawaiian bamboo rats is considerably reduced: the bamboo dies off after flowering simultaneously in big territories, and rats sometimes appear without food among a congestion of died out trunks of these graminoids. The survived rats in small amount pass to other forage, eating young sprouts of bamboo, slowing down naturally its distribution. Also at lack of the basic forage they eat fleshy rhizomes and the bottom part of stalks of other grasses, including other species of bamboo.
On other islands of the Hawaiian archipelago close species of bamboo rats live:

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Black-backed bamboo rat (Bambusiphagomys melanodorsus) lives on Molokai Island. It is the small species representing by the size something mean between rat and mouse. This rodent lives on medium-sized species of bamboo and at tops of large species, choosing the internode of suitable size. The basic colouring of its wool is sandy – yellow, and on back from a nape up to the basis of tail one wide black strip stretches. Occasionally on sides there are pale longitudinal strokes.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Narrow-striped bamboo rat (B. angustizonus) is also small species meeting on Maui Island in thickets of small-leafed species of bamboo. It arranges shelter in the basis of trunks in the thickest internodes, but feeds mainly at tops of bamboo, eating insects and young leaves of this grass. On its back set of narrow longitudinal stripes of brown color stretches on grayish - white background; stomach is white.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Half-striped bamboo rat (B. hemifasciatus) lives on Lanai Island. This rat differs from close species in remarkable colouring: on forward part of body strips are absent; they begin only on middle of back, and cover waist and hips of animal. The basic colouring of this animal is light grey with black strips. On head and cheeks of this rat there are white spots using for recognition of congeners. Except for colouring, this species differs in more graceful addition: lengthened body, short forepaws, narrow muzzle and long tail. This rat reaches usual length of grey rat, but weighs approximately twice less than it.

Hawaiian gatherer rat (Pacifirattus collector)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Murines (Muridae)

Habitat: Hawaiian Islands, rain tropical woods.
Hawaiian islands differ from set of other islands in rather big area and huge variety of possible habitats given to live creatures. The complex mountain relief creates a plenty of rather isolated habitats and as the consequence of it, set of various though also closely related species of small live creatures lives on Hawaii. They differ from each other in features of appearance, way of life and behavior. Such variety gets sometimes the extremely fantastical forms.
Mammal of Hawaiian Islands evolved mainly from animals introduced by people. And rodents reached the greatest variety among them. Having high speed of alternation of generations and small size, they could occupy various ecological niches. Island descendants of rats differ from each other in size, way of life and features of behavior.
In human epoch in territory of Australia and New Guinea bower birds, and in pampas of South America large rodents viscachas lived. These animals had differed in one interesting feature of behavior: having predilection for various bright objects, they collected them, arranging in special places original “exhibitions”. The similar creature lives on Hawaii in Neocene epoch. It arranges round wicker drays in branches of bushes, and places “collections” of shining exoskeletons of beetles and snail shells around of them on broken off knots. Owners of building, the breeding couple, from time to time flash in foliage, hastening to the dray or back.
This four-pawed “collector” is Hawaiian gatherer rat, a creature like large grey rat (Rattus norvegicus) by size, and by the way it is its strict descendant. This rodent leads semi-climbing habit of life, swarms up bushes well, and arranges drays at small height from the ground. For protection against enemies this rat builds drays in prickly bushes.
Being a day time animal, Hawaiian gatherer rat has the bright colouring appreciably distinguished from monotonous and dim colouring of ancestor. At this rat there are red back with longitudinal lines of dark speckles, brown head and white spots near black ears. Also there are white points above eyes. At this rat there are large eyes and wide rounded ears through which there leaves surplus of heat in hot day. Paws are armed with sharp tenacious claws; joints are very mobile, hand and foot can turn aside to the significant corner.
This rat is omnivorous, but prefers food of animal origin. It eats various snails including predatory ones, at an opportunity ravages nests of birds and eats insects. Frequently this rat eats large beetles, and drags their shells to the dray to supplement its “collection”. This rodent lives at edges and damaged sites of wood where bushes plentifully grow. It is able to swarm up branches perfectly, and here prehensile tail making more of half of the general length of rodent helps the rodent. The tail is naked, covered with grey skin with separate bristles. It is used as the balance weight more often. Jumping from branch to another, this rat can drive by tail, or rotates it to turn over in air and to land on paws like the cat. On the bottom side of tail the cross horn combs permitting to catch for bark stronger when rat moves in bush, are advanced.
Dray of this rodent is similar to squirrel’s one: it is spherical, wattled of rods, arranged in densest part of bush thickets. Similar drays martenrats from Tonga islands plait independently of them, but at the Hawaiian rats, as against to Tonga ones, the entrance to dray in turned not from below, but sideways. This rat frequently alters for habitation bird's nests, preliminary having attacked on owners and having ravaged their clutch. Drays made among prickly bushes are especially appreciated. This species lodges in drays in pairs kept for some seasons, and frequently till all life. For strengthening of relations between partners rats use various symbolical “gifts”, and by their amount near the dray it is possible to judge force of matrimonial connections: the strong pair in the prime of life collects many various “gifts”, and successfully protects them from encroachments on the part of congeners. Usually these rodents collect bright snail shells under “butcheries” of local hookbill bird eating snails, and decorate with them an entrance to the shelter. For the organization of “exhibition” pair of rats gnaws off a part of branches near to bush in which the dray is arranged, clears them of foliage and bark, and picks on them shells, dead beetles of bright coloring and if their number is too little – live flowers. The single male, having won itself a bush suitable for habitation, first of all organizes “exhibition”, and arranges dray only later. The more bright and large will be such collection of bright objects, the more obviously force and dexterity of animal had collected and had kept it. Different pairs have different predilections - near some drays there is more live flowers, near others shells or elytrums of beetles are presented. Pairs at gatherer rats are to no small degree formed on generality of “aesthetic views” of partners. The “exhibition” is regularly updated: the withered flowers and dried berries are replaced by fresh ones, and new “exhibits” found, or stolen at neighbours from time to time are added there.
During courtship displays the male drags in teeth bright objects from “collection”, showing them to female. It serves as original “substitute” of secondary sexual attributes. Partners from amicable pair in common steal ornaments at neighbours and protect “collections” from ravaging. If necessary these rodents can drive off from bushes even local huge herbivore birds (giant forest geese), frightening them by shrill squeal. If birds do not recede, rodents even attack them, biting birds in unprotected paws. Some pairs of these rodents can operate in common against the large enemy.
Seasonal prevalence in breeding of the Hawaiian gatherer rats is not present. At any time year in drays of these rodents it is possible to find cubs of various ages. In litter of this rodent three - four times per one year up to eight - eleven naked blind cubs appear. The female cares after them, leaving posterity only for feeding, and the male is completely occupied with protection of fodder territory and “collection” from neighbours. At week age the young growth becomes covered by wool, for the twelfth day starts to see and hear. Up to monthly age rat cubs stay in dray, and later start to play already outside of home: swarm up branches, drag small objects, trying to steal them at each other. Bi-monthly cubs already receive punishment from parents, and one by one abandon parental territory. In youth, not having an own home, they are very vulnerable, and at this time perish from various predators. Up to half-year age, when the young animal becomes strong enough to win to itself territory, only few individuals survive. Life expectancy of these rodents is short – only few animals live till three years, and the majority does not live even till two years.

Mangrove builder rat (Architectorattus piscatorius)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Murines (Muridae)

Habitat: Meganesia, mangrove forests of Arafura Lake.
Rodents were only terrestrial placental mammals in Australia before the human arrival to this continent. Under human influence the fauna of Australia had substantially lost the originality, and a plenty of non-native species introduced from other continents had appeared in it. During the time pased from the moment of extinction of mankind, some lines of placentals had declined, and others, on the contrary, continued the prospering. Rodents are especially succeeding group among them. The type of anatomy, characteristic for rats and mice, appeared very successful, and numerous rats had settled in various biotops of Meganesia. One of their species due to versatility of behaviour had developed mangrove forests separating by thousand-kilometre wide barrier Arafura Lake from the ocean. It is very specific environment where small islets of land alternate with impassable marshes and rich mattings of roots and branches of mangrove trees.
The large species of rats well adapted to life in such inhabitancy lives in branches of mangrove trees. Its settlements represent “towns” of several tens of nests looking like small huts arranged on branches. Because of this feature the animal is named mangrove builder rat.
This mammal is medium-sized aquatic rodent: its body length is about 30 cm. It has anatomy typical for rats, long flattened muzzle and short forepaws with mobile fingers and sharp claws. Rear legs are big and strong, and have membranes between toes. Auricles are small. When rat dives, acoustic duct is closed by the special skin valve. Mangrove builder rat has long tail, which serves as a counterbalance when it swarms up branches. Wool of animal is velvety and rich, but short. This rat greases it with fat secretions of special glands, and spends a lot of time cleaning it. Cleaning of wool at these animals is a mark of mutual attachment, and the individuals standing below at the scale of rank express submission to stronger individual this way. The top part of body of mangrove biulder rat is colored beige; throat and breast are white.
This rat eats fish, crabs and insects, and also consumes fruits and young leaves of mangrove trees. It is able to swim and dive well, and during the inflow it hunts for fish and other water animals. Swimming under water this rodent presses forepaws to breast and rows by hinder legs. Mangrove builder rat leads social habit of life and settles among mangrove thickets in colonies numbering some tens of individuals. The inhabiting in holes and hollows traditional for rats does not fit to conditions of mangrove forest – ground is regularly flooded here, and hollows in tree trunks are not so extensive to contain the numerous colonies of animals. Therefore during the evolution at these rats the special form of building behaviour had developed. Each breeding pair constructs for itself the original dwelling – primitive conic-shaped “tent” which is located above a level of the highest inflow. By this feature mangrove builder rat is similar to martenrat from Tonga Islands – the rodent developed during the evolution process the similar kind of shelters independently of it. In the basis of “tent” there is a small wum platform made by animals of fibrous leaves of palm tree and pandanus, or of bark of mangrove tree sprouts. Above it the dome of arched bent rods is erected, on which the roof made of leaves is attached. The ready construction has conic shape. Houses of mangrove builder rats form a kind of “village” where up to ten pairs of adult animals and numerous young ones live. At the exhaustion of fodder resources the colony abandons “village” and moves to new places where new constructions are quickly made.
Within one year the pair of adult rats may bring into the world up to four litters of 6 – 8 cubs. They develop quickly and already at the age of 6 – 7 weeks become independent and make their own constructions at the edge of “village”. At the age of half-year they become sexually mature. Life expectancy at these animals does not exceed three years.

Kapo (Kapo hawaiiensis)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Mice and Rats (Muridae)

Habitat: Hawaii Islands, Big Island.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Before the people arriving to Hawaii mammals of this archipelago were presented only by bats and seals. In common with people new animals appeared at the islands, and among them there was a rat – one of the first ground mammals appeared in Hawaii. Their occurrence has resulted in disappearance of significant number of bird species existed at Hawaiian archipelago. Despite of human efforts directed to extermination of these animals, rats have not died out on Hawaii, and managed go easily through the period of global ecological crisis. After stabilization of climate various species of rats differing from each other in ecology and way of life had evolved on Hawaii. The largest descendant of introduced rats is kapo, animal similar to South American rodents agouti and paca, known in human epoch.
Kapo is very large species of rodents: the adult animal weighs about 5 kgs at body length about 40 cm. In its constitution kapo resembles a pig – this animal has short and muscled body, large head with narrow mobile muzzle and long whiskers, rather long legs and short thin tail. Colouring of this animal helps this rodent to hide in vegetation of underbrush: primary colour of kapo wool is grey, along back some faltering black strips stretch, and the top part of head is black. This rodent has rather large eyes. Above kapo’s eyes there are two big white spots helping this animal to distinguish congeners. Auricles of kapo are large, rounded and rather wide – they serve for body cooling in hot climate. From the outside edges of kapo’s auricles are covered with white wool that permits the animals to notice each other in shady underbrush. This species of rodents is almost exclusively vegetarian though it does not miss an opportunity to catch large insect, crab or snail. Its basic food includes seeds, roots of grassy plants and green. Kapo moves on ground on straightened legs. It can run very quickly, suddenly changing direction of run for protection against enemies. This animal is heavy enough, and it is not able to climb on trees. If the animal can not escape from the enemy, it protects itself, putting deep lacerations by incisors.
Kapo is especially active in twilight and in early morning, and prefers to hide in various shelters in the afternoon. In middle of night kapo also has a rest within several hours. These animals dig short holes with a characteristic bend: the beginning of hole is almost horizontal, then it makes a sharp bend downwards, and proceeds horizontally or slightly inclined upwards. It is very difficult to dig out such hole, and it serves as good shelter for animal. Kapos make “stores” of seeds in forest, digging under roots of trees small holes and filling them with gathered seeds. They especially frequently reserve large seeds of palm trees and leguminous plants. The part of stocks will be eaten, but not completely – kapos frequently do not pull out all seeds from “store”, or forget the stock at all if find enough food. And then through any time in forest whole bunches of sprouts of various plants appear. Similarly to South American rodents, Hawaiian kapos carry seeds of palms and other trees with large and heavy seeds. Hence there is their name: Kapo is a god of fertility at ancient Hawaiians.
Kapos live in pairs or in small groups: pair of adult animals and their posterity. Each pair has the certain territory where the shelter is arranged, but is fed in the distance from it. Inhabited holes of kapo are made nearby one from another, and individuals of different pairs communicate with each other with the help of sounds and movements of body. The pair is formed for some years, and brings posterity two times per one year. In litter at kapo there are about five naked blind cubs. Within two months of life they acquire wool, grow considerably and become more mobile. At them eyes open, they start to get out of a hole and to learn world around. In the beginning of the third month of life young kapos start to lead the same way of life as adult individuals, and completely pass to food of adult animals. At the age of 20 months young animals reach the size of adults and can give posterity. Life expectancy of kapo rarely exceeds five years.

Poison-toothed giant rat (Cobrodus toxicodus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Mice and Rats (Muridae)

Habitat: Southeast Asia, tropical forests, the sites overgrown with grassy vegetation.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

In tropical forests of Neocene epoch rodents represent one of the most typical groups of mammals. These animals have great range of habitats – from underbrush up to forest canopy – and occupy various ecological niches. Due to ecological plasticity rodents had successfully gone through the time of anthropogenous pressure and had reached blossoming in Neocene epoch. Their adaptations for survival are very diverse, and some Neocene species have developed adaptations unknown in human epoch.
The massive sluggish rodents similar a little to badgers with long hairless nonflexible tails live in forests of Southeast Asia. They are large descendants of any from numerous species of rats (Rattus); the body length of adult individual reaches 50 – 60 cm (and tail is about 40 cm long), and weight is up to 7 – 8 kg. They live in family couples and constantly search for food together. The body of these rodents is covered with rigid wool of rusty-brown color, lighter on stomach. Head is colored very brightly and sharply contrasts with body colouring: on white background longitudinal black strips stretch – some narrow strips on forehead and one wide stroke on each cheek. Such colouring is very well perceived by predators lack of color vision, and is remembered by them for a long time after acquaintance to protective adaptations of these rodents. The bite of these rodents is poisonous.
Poisonous mammals are known in human epoch – they are monotremes and some insectivores. They secreted their own poison from special glands: duck-bill from spurs on legs, and shrews from modified salivary glands. Poisonous shrew lives in Neocene in forests of Europe. Poison-toothed giant rat differs from them in origin of poison: in modified salivary glands of this rodent the poisons received from plants are accumulated. At an attack of predator poison-toothed giant rat first of all displays to the enemy readiness to protect itself, widely opening mouth and bristling wool on head. If the enemy continues attempts of attack, the rodent counterattacks it and bites strongly. On top incisors of poison-toothed giant rat from external edge there is a groove which gradually goes deeper when animal is older and turns to closed channel. The duct of specialized salivary gland opens in it. Obviously, at ancestors of these rats salivary glands began initially to filter and to excrete a part of alcaloids received with food, which has allowed rodents to eat poisonous plants, avoiding a competition to other herbivores. Then additional function gradually turned to basic one, and salivary glands had turned to stores of poison.
The diet of these rodents includes a significant part of poisonous plants of various families, usually spurges and sumach. When poison-toothed giant rat chews poisonous plants, poison from their sap is intensively absorbing by mucous membranes of mouth and is immediately filtered in salivary glands. This species has very expressed immunity to plant poisons, and also to poisons of snakes and numerous invertebrates. Due to such diet poison-toothed giant rat avoids food competition to other species of animals.
Voice of this rodent represents silent sounds similar to pig grunting and puffing. Alarm call of poison-toothed giant rats is shrill whistle heard from very long distance. Using it, these rodents warn each other of occurrence of predator. Protecting itself from the enemy, poison-toothed giant rat displays to it contrast colouring of head and utters loud squeal. If the predator does not stop an attack, poison-toothed giant rat puts to it deep snaps and injects poison in wounds at these moments.
These animals live in pairs in large holes arranged under roots of big trees. The pair at poison-toothed giant rats is kept during very long time – partners may raise posterity in common within several years in succession. Within one year this rat gives birth to two litters numbering 2 – 4 cubs. They are born blind, but covered with rare wool. Female looks after them within one month while cubs will develop enough to search for food independently and to follow parents.
The first months of life poison-toothed giant rat lacks characteristic poisonous bite, because it has weak immunity to poisons, and eats nonpoisonous parts of plants. At this time only protection of this animal is its own care. Young animal gradually includes poisonous plants in diet, and later becomes capable to accumulate poison in salivary glands.

Waitoreke (Waitoreke potamophilus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Mice and Rats (Muridae)

Habitat: various reservoirs of New Zealand – lakes, streams and rivers.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Waitoreke is a creature equal to black rat in size, but much more graceful. This rodent is the descendant of black rat introduced to New Zealand by ancestors of maori – aboriginals of archipelago. Waitoreke is named after certain river animal (“otter”) of local legends. In many respects it resembles this animal which remained a mystery for official science.
The wool of waitoreke is colored grey tone: back and head are dark grey, and the bottom part of body is ash-grey. The tail of waitoreke is black, flattened, covered with hairless skin, resembling beaver tail in outlines. Forepaws are shorter then rear legs and have well advanced fingers. Around of eyes of mammal there are white “glasses”. Its muzzle resembles muzzle of rat, with well advanced vibrissa. With the help of vibrissa touches this animal can search for food even in muddy water. Eyes of waitoreke are large, and ears are small, rounded and almost unnoticeable in wool.
Waitoreke is skilful fisher, and this fact has leaved a mark on its appearance: this little mammal has small ears, strong webby hind legs, waterproof fur like an otter. Secretions of special glands give to waitoreke’s fur necessary water-repellent properties. Due to greasing the animal gets out of water almost dry – it needs only to shake some drops of water from itself. Such adaptation helps this animal to keep heat even at life in cold mountain lakes and streams. The special valve closes an acoustic duct when animal dives.
This little mammal lives in coastal zone of rivers, streams, lakes of both islands of New Zealand. waitoreke prefers to live in woody area, but also settles in plain areas. It eats various aquatic animals: snails, frogs, aquatic insects and fishes. Sometimes waitoreke catches nestlings of waterfowl, snatching them from under water or stealing from nests. Animal catches prey by forepaws and kills by bite of strong incisors. waitoreke hunts large fishes in packs.
Waitorekes live in rallied colonies resembling a colony of meerkats. The colony represents some tens of holes dug near to water edge of reservoir. In each hole one couple of adults lives. One couple is dominant – their hole is located in the centre of colony, and at lack of forage dominants can take food away at other animals of a colony. But at danger the dominants attack enemy the first. When in the morning all animals go to the search of food, some “sentinels” stay in colony. They notify relatives on danger by loud whistle, and if necessary, protect cubs actively. The enemy of waitoreke is antipods’ unotter (Xenolutra antipodorum) which lives in a lower reaches of New Zealand rivers. Herons and large predatory fishes, and also neohanasaki (Neohanasaki aotearoae), large species of amphibians, may eat adult animals and cubs.
These animals form pairs to all further life. Courtship period at waitoreke takes place in spring (October in Southern Hemisphere), and posterity is born in the beginning of summer. The second litter is born at the end of summer. In spring litter of this animal numbers up to five cubs though usually it is less, in summer – no more than three ones. Cubs are born at all couples capable to breed, and not just at the dominant couple. However in dominant’s litter cubs are larger, and on the average, the litter numbers one cub more, than at other couples. Young animals become sexually mature at the age of 6 – 7 months. At this time young animals leave parental colony and form their own colony, or join one of existing waitoreke colonies.

This species of mammals was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Hawaiian mole mouse (Xenospalax subterraneus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Pacific mole mice (Xenospalacidae)

Habitat: Hawaii (Big Island), ground in valleys and woods.
Before human occurrence at Hawaii mammals were absent at islands and only insects and their larvae could occupy an ecological niche of underground digging animals. But historical colonization epoch the fauna of islands had replenished with various animals, alien to indigenious fauna on fault of people. At Hawaii various species of ground mammal, which began to develop ecological niches inaccessible to birds, had appeared. Moles and other digging animals were not introduced to Hawaii, but their place uniquitous rodents had occupied: they are descendants of mice avoiding a competition to descendants of two species of rats, also introduced to islands by people.
The ground in woods of Hawaiian Islands is penetrated with set of underground burrows in which their builders - completely blind rat-sized animals – run. By body shape they are similar to mole rats (Spalax) living in Eurasia, but they are descendants of house mouse. Therefore they are named Hawaiian mole mice. They differ from true mole rats in features of behavior: if true mole rats frequently left on the ground surface for feeding, their Hawaiian “doubler” does it extremely seldom, eating only roots and tubers of plants.
Hawaiian mole mice are similar to continental species by features of anatomy developed at both groups independently. At them there are the same cylindrical body, short paws and large head. Main digging adaptations of Hawaiian mole mouse are its head and strong incisors. Skull of this animal is wide and short, and incisors of top jaw are very big. Lips of animal densely close mouth from the ground by special outgrowths, not impeding incisors. Occipital muscles are very strong, for their attachment on back edge of skull of the animal the special crest stretches. Muscles lowering head are also strongly advanced. During the ground digging this small mammal lifts head making effort and ramming a vault of formed hole, and then lowers it, ploughing by incisors deep furrow in the ground before itself. Animal rakes away the loosened ground by forepaws under stomach and pushes it out from hole, or simply stamps by paws.
This animal is completely blind, and its eyes are reduced even in greater degree, than at moles – eyeballs are abscent and the optic nerve had reduced. The top of head and shoulders of Hawaiian mole mouse are covered with thick cornificate skin – animal forms a vault of hole by them. Corneous armour on head closes the place where ancestors of this animal had eyes, and also covers nose from above. It is additionally strengthened with bones of skull of animal grown together in continuous osseous vault.
Because paws do not accept direct participation in digging, they are rather short. Animal only rakes away the friable ground back by them. Tail of Hawaiian mole mouse is also very short and hairless. Animal is covered with velvety fur of black color. On muzzle of Hawaiian mole mice long whiskers, with which help animals are guided in space of underground courses, grow.
Hawaiian mole mice build extended systems of burrows in wood, and arrange the special drainage tunnels through which the water leaking to burrows because of daily rains is removed from them. As animals are vegetarians, the competition between them is not as sharp, as, for example, at moles. Hawaiian mole mice eat roots and tubers of plants, and even parts of such species which are not eaten by other animals.
Hawaiian mole mice breed practically the year round. For one year the female can draw up to five hatches numbering 6 – 8 cubs. They grow quickly, and at monthly age already begin independent life. At three-monthly age they already can give birth to posterity. But, despite of such high rate of breeding, the significant amount of young growth perishes: when the colony appears overpopulated, the part of its inhabitants (mainly young animals) feels stress. It occurs because of too big frequency of meetings between animals, and less strong animals aspire to leave earlier safe holes. At this time animals frequently settle not in systems of holes, but on the ground surface. It happens that such animals movable by aspiration to avoid of stress appear on ground surface in day time, run in wood, not trying to hide, and at times even try to force rivers. The significant part of these of “victims of stress” perishes, but some ones succeed to leave far enough and to found a new settlement.
Under the ground one of main dangers – the descendant of intruder like them, the large digging blind snake catches Hawaiian mole mice. And on the ground surface local predatory birds, and even descendants of rats catch them.
At the next islands of the Hawaiian archipelago there are close species of these rodents:
Mole mouse of Lanai Island (Xenospalax lanaiensis) is the small species (equal to large mouse in size), distinguished by spotty colouring: on light grey background there are dark spots. Separate individuals of this species are almost completely black. This species has similar biology, but spends more time on ground surface. At night it leaves to feed among bushes.
Mole mouse of Maui Island, or half-naked mole mouse (Xenospalax mauiensis) differs from other species in strange appearance: the fur of yellowish-grey color had remained at this species only on the bottom part of body and on shoulders. Head, back and sides of this rodent are hairless, covered with rough grayish skin. This rodent lives in warm rainforests, and is able to swim well. The young growth can even settle during floodings.
Giant mole mouse (Xenospalax giganteus) lives at small Kahulawi Island near southwest coast of Maui Island. It is the largest species of genus: the length of body reaches 25 cm. It differs in greater, than at other species, propensity to leave on ground surface. Its wool is colored rusty-brown color, and corneous “helmet” on head is rather small.

Cataphractherium (“armored beast”) (Cataphractherium protectus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Porcupines (Hystricidae)

Habitat: forests of Zinj Land, the broken sites of forest stand with plentiful grassy vegetation.

Picture by Tim Morris

In Neocene rodents had an opportunity to pass to large dimensional class. Earlier this process proceeded on the Earth in limited scale – really large species appeared in Neogene of South America, and in other continents this group was represented by rather small animals. Extinction of large species of animals in Holocene has enabled rodents to occupy new ecological niches and to become larger species. The increase of size took place independently in different groups of rodents. Huge mighty grasscuttes, kangoohoppers and giant kangaroo jerboas live in Old World of Neocene epoch. And at the East African subcontinent, in Zinj Land, the unusual representative of Old World porcupines, cataphractherium lives. It is a large porcupine of massive constitution – weight of adult animal reaches 200 kg, body length is about 150 cm not including tail. This animal has convergent similarity to large ground porcupines of North America and stegoechidna from Meganesia – it moves on four legs, sometimes rears on hind legs and actively uses forepaws for food getting. This is a plantigrade animal with large head and long tail.
The anatomy of skin of cataphractherium is unusual: it is an animal chained in bone-corneous “armour” similarly to extinct ground sloths of late Cenozoic (hence the name: “cataphractus” means “armored” in Latin), but having means of active defense. Needles, characteristic for true porcupines, have lost function of thrust weapon at cataphractherium. On back and sides of this animal needles are truncated and became very thick. They have lost mobility and have turned to corneous plates of wide pyramidal shape with the dulled apex. On neck they are joined to cross lines, and on trunk form something like “cobblestone road” with chaotic arrangement of plates. Inside these plates located along a backbone the centres of ossification are formed, and at old animals the corneous tissue of plates is gradually replaced by firm bone. These plates are mostly immersed in thickness of skin and only tops jut outside. They are hidden with rich wool of ash-grey color, darker on head and shoulders.
Cataphractherium is a sluggish herbivorous animal to which it is vital to be able to render worthy repulse to predators. Tail of this animal has turned to truly dangerous weapon. It is strong and muscled, because at food getting heavy cataphractherium supports on it. The spikes, inherited from ancestral porcupines, had changed and had turned to strong corneoud “daggers” on the tail of this animal. Terminal vertebrae of tail are fused together, having formed a kind of “mace”, as at prehistoric ankylosaurs. Lateral shoots of “mace” vertebrae are enlarged, and “mace” has flattened shape and rounded outlines. The bottom surface of “mace” is covered with small prickles, which rest against the ground when cataphractherium reaches to branches of low trees, having reared on hind legs. “Dagger” spikes grow on edges of this “mace”, and on its top part there are some corneous plates. Defensive tactics of cataphractherium is very simple – it meets a predator, standing on four paws and swinging tail. If the predator attacks, animal makes impacts to its legs and stomach by tail. Easily turning on hind legs, the animal constantly turns sideways to predator and keeps up its movements.
Beyond the danger this animal behaves very peacefully. Males may display aggression to each other only at the presence of the female ready to pairing. Thus they try to frighten the contender, striking impacts by tail on grass and thin-stalked bushes and making a lot of noise. If the contender does not recede, males combat, having risen on hind legs and “boxing” by forepaws. As cataphractheriums live in tropical climate, the courtship season is not expressed precisely, though the majority of females is ready to pairing in rainseason.
Cataphractheriums are peaceful foliage browsing herbivores. They eat greenery of undersized trees, bushes and large grassy plants. Powerful incisors allow them to bite off young branches of bushes and fibrous leafstalks of grassy plants. With the help of long claws on forepaws cataphractheriums dig the ground in searches of tubers and rhizomes of plants. It is a solitary species of animals: only the female and its posterity keep together.
The female gives rise to two cubs once a year. The young growth is not protected by plates – they start to grow only at the age of two months. Cubs have soft wool and spotty colouring – on dark background there are randomly scattered black spots. As corneous plates grow, spots disappear, being kept for longer time on shoulders and head. Young animals quickly learn to eat food of adult animals, but are fed with milk up to five-monthly age, and further require only protection and the help in getting of vegetative forage. Usually at this time female is already coupled again, and the young animal leaves mother shortly before birth the next cub at her. The young animal reaches the size of adult individual at the age of three years and becomes sexually mature the same time.

This species of mammals was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Otter dormouse (Glirolutra hamiota)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Dormice (Gliridae)

Habitat: southeast of Europe, valleys of rivers running into Fourseas.
The last congelation at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene in had radically changed the geography of Eurasia. The glacier had moved huge masses of the ground as if huge “bulldozer” and has changed the direction of current of European rivers. Only the lower reaches of Dnepr, Don and Volga rivers had remained approximately in the same places, as in human epoch. But their upper courses are already absolutely different, rather than in human epoch. Number of inhabitants of European fresh waters had been reduced in great degree, and many fish-eating animals had died out. In particular, European otters were among them. Earlier their number was undermined by people, and it was an additional factor caused their extinction.
After glacier thawing in early Neocene, when fresh waters of Europe had returned to the territory occupied earlier and had formed new river channels. In rivers freshwater fishes and crustaceans had settled again, but otters did not hunt them any more – they had died out irrevocably. However, such favourable ecological niche has not remained empty - rodents had undertaken a role of fish-eating river predator. It is remarkable, that in South America about the same situation had taken place in parallel and independently, but the descendant of completely another animal became aquatic predator there.
And in Europe the role of Neocene “otter” is played by the descendant of fat dormouse (Glis glis), by otter dormouse. It is rather large rodent: it is approximately equal to marten in size. Top side of body of this animal is gray-brown; throat, breast and stomach are milky-white. Fur is very dense and rich; animal spends a lot of time looking after it and greases it regularly with fatty secretions of special glands. Head of otter dormouse is pointed, ears are small, and muzzle is lengthened. On muzzle there are very much advanced rigid and long vibrissae, helping to be guided even in muddy water.
The basic body of underwater movement represents hind legs with long toes between which membranes are advanced. In addition this rodent swims with the help of wide and flattened tail similar a little to beaver’s tail. Forepaws are shorter, rather than hind ones, and at movement they are pressed against chest. Fingers lack of membranes, but the claws are advanced, and finger pads are very sensitive.
The basic food of this rodent includes fish catching by otter dormouse in thickness of water. Occasionally it eats large crustaceans – crayfishes and large scuds. This rodent kills small prey (small crustaceans, tadpoles, fish fry and insects) by bite and hides in cheek pouches. Having emerged on surface of water, otter dormouse eats the saved up prey. Otter dormouse eats large fish on land, holding food in forepaws.
Otter dormice live in clans, forming small settlements on riverbanks. Such colony totals up to ten adult animals, and also some individuals of young growth of the present year. “Lair” is arranged in holes in riverbanks. Holes are located no farther than one meter from each other; the single rodent and growing up posterity till some time lives in each one. Occasionally among otter dormice the convinced singles appear. They are less conservative in a choice of refuge and sometimes settle even in hollows of trees or in nests of large birds, arranging “ground floor” under nest (due to tenacious claws this rodent is able to climb up trees). But life alone for this rodent is rather compelled circumstances, than a rule. But the clan of these animals represents simply some individuals living nearby from each other and not connected with relationships in the majority. At them the hierarchy constructed by a principle of strict matriarchy is established: females are larger than males and settle in the center of colony.
During the hunting each rodent operates separately and does not miss an opportunity to steal prey at weaker individual. Therefore the young growth, leaving mother, stays in colony rather seldom, especially if the place is not too rich in food. The only thing uniting these rodents is the danger. Even large wide-headed catfishes are afraid to attack group of these rodents, preying only young or single animals.
Otter dormice have voice and can utter some different signals based on whistle. Loud whistle is, perhaps, a sound most important for them – it’s a signal of threat from air: birds of prey are usual enemies of these rodents. Rolling chirring is a signal of underwater alarm. At occurrence of a stranger from other clan, or a single individual, old residents of colony meet it with sibiliant whistle, accompanying it with threating poses. If the shortage of food takes place, otter dormice may be aggressive to strangers.
Despite of descending from dormice, these rodents keep activity in winter. They punch thin ice on river surface with claws or gnaw it through. But usually in habitats of these rodents river does not become covered by ice – otter dormice do not settle far to the north.
Two times per one year the female gives rise up to 5 – 6 cubs. They come into the world blind, but covered with wool. The first litter is born when winter colds have not passed yet, and the second litter appears in the middle of summer. Shortly before it female banishes the previous posterity. At one-year-old age young animals begin able to bring posterity.

This species of mammals was discovered by Simon, the forum member.

Mountain dormouse, chinchilla-dormouse (Raptoglis chinchilloides)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Dormice (Gliridae)

Habitat: mountains of Caucasian peninsula, Middle East.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

In early Neocene rodents got an opportunity to prove once again their evolutionary success. They evolved quickly, occupying all habitats suitable for them, and already in early Neocene their specific variety was comparable to the level of Pliocene and an early Pleistocene, before the epoch of anthropogenous pressure. In Neocene rodents are widespread everywhere on Earth, except for Antarctica – from equatorial forests to cold northern meadows and tops of mountains.
In Eurasia in Neocene there were some species of dormice family which use food of animal origin much more often than their ancestors. These are the sable dormouse (Raptoglis zibellinus) from Three-River-Land steppes and the otter-dormouse (Glirolutra hamiota) from rivers of eastern part of Europe. One more species closely related to them lives to the south from Fourseas, in mountains of Caucasian peninsula and mountains of the Middle East – it is the mountain dormouse called also the chinchilla-dormouse for its thick warm fur. This representative of northern fauna prospers in the south exactly thanks to dwelling in cold highland climate.
The mountain dormouse is the large rodent reaching weight of about 3 kilograms and the size of a small cat. Due to tail covered with long wool the animal seems even larger. The head of this rodent is rounded, has shortened muzzle and small ears covered with wool from outside. Mountain dormouse has large eyes and good sight.
This species mastered successfully life in highlands due to thick fur which helps to keep heat even in hard frost or at the great elevations. Summer fur of this animal is reddish-brown, velvety and rather short. There always is a white spot on breast and throat, head top is darker. Winter fur differs in greater wool length and thickness, and also in lighter coloring.

Picture by Alexander Smyslov

Constitution of this animal is solid, and paws are short (hinder legs are rather longer than forelegs). Fingers and toes are armed with pointed claws due to which mountain dormouse is capable to climb on almost steep mountainsides and among a bush. This animal can make leaps up to 2 – 3 meters long.
Mountain dormouses are almost exceptionally zoophagous, adding to their diet no more than 10% of vegetable food, though in case of starvation they can temporarily turn to completely vegetative food. These rodents often eat carrion, searching for it by smell. Additionally mountain dormouses readily gnaw even bones. For them the habit to search and to pull down bones to “bonemill”, a special place hidden from predators, where these animals gnaw their finds, is characteristic. They almost completely assimilate collagen from the eaten bones, and the remains are insignificant. Usual prey of mountain dormice includes small rodents, birds and their eggs, and reptiles and insects in lowlands.
This species of rodents lives singly and rarely in couples. The female is more aggressive than male. The shelter of this rodent represents the deep hole made between stones in the way hardening the digging out of the hole by predators.
Like other representatives of family, mountain dormice fall the long hibernation which can last up to half a year with short breaks. Animals grow fat intensively to the winter, gaining the weight of about 4,5 kg. Fur becomes longer and denser. During the winter the animal wakes up for several times to leave the dung, which is very condensed and dry at this time.
The posterity is born at the end of spring when there is a lot of food. The litter numbers up to 5 cubs which grow quickly and at the age of about two weeks already start tasting meat. Sometimes at the end of summer animals can have the second litter in which only sometimes there are more than two cubs. Life expectancy doesn’t exceed 5 years.

Translated by Alexander Smyslov

Giant kangaroo jerboa (Macrodipodes wallabiiformis)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Jerboas (Dipodidae)

Habitat: steppes of South-Eastern Europe, along the Fourseas coast to Middle Asia.

Picture by Alexey Tatarinov

Steppe ecosystems of Eurasia before the beginning of the vigorous human activity had not conceded to savannas of Africa in biological efficiency. Various hoofed mammals – aurochses, wild horses and antelopes – had been dominant species of steppe herbivores. People ploughed steppes, transforming these areas into primitive agrocenoses, and exterminated steppe animals. The result of human activity was a degrading of steppe ecosystems by the end of human era. In Neocene the population of newly appearing ecosystems had been formed, actually, from zero. In the Euroasian steppes of temperate climatic zone representatives of new groups of herbivorous mammals dominate – porcippulas, cursorial boar relatives, gracile harelopes, and some other forms of herbivores. Among new steppe herbivores of Neocene large representatives of rodents took the important place. In Neocene rodents represent one of the most successful orders of mammals.
Jerboas were the characteristic group of rodents of the Old World lived in open spaces. In ice age at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene, in conditions of desertification and deforestation, some representatives of jerboa family had got a wide distribution and had considerably increased in size. This adaptation, favourable in conditions of cold climate, has allowed one species of these rodents to occupy an ecological niche of the analogue of small antelopes in steppes of Eurasia. This animal is giant kangaroo jerboa, a gregarious middle-sized mammal.
This rodent has kept features of anatomy, characteristic for family representatives, adjusted for the giant size: the animal weighs up to 15 kg. In behaviour and a habit of movement giant kangaroo jerboa is similar to small kangaroos like wallaby. The body length of this animal reaches 60 cm, and tail is about one meter long. Long strong tail at this rodent serves for support when animal eats, bringing food to the mouth by forepaws. Giant kangaroo jerboa moves almost exclusively on rear legs, accelerating momentum up to 70 kms per hour In case of danger it makes jumps up to 6 meters long. At jumps tail of animal serves as the balance weight. On the tip of tail the switch of white hair is advanced.
Ears of giant kangaroo jerboa are rather short and rounded. This animal does not dig holes, and does not run into hibernation in winter – these changes of behaviour are consequences of increase of body size. In winter this animal keeps activity, and it does not need overcooling.
Summer wool of giant kangaroo jerboa has sand yellow color with small dark spots merging to short cross strokes on back. In winter the wool of animal turns lighter in color and becomes thicker. At this species of rodents wool is weakly attached to skin. If the predator will seize this animal, wool easily drops out and allows the animal to escape from its teeth. Moreover in winter “dress” at giant kangaroo jerboa “ski” grow on feet – it is a border of rigid wool. This adaptation helps an animal to jump easily on snow, not falling in.
In summer giant kangaroo jerboa is a solitary animal. Each individual has territory, and its borders are marked by urine and secretions of smell glands. The centre of territory is a hole or any other ready shelter. Giant kangaroo jerboa is not able to dig a hole itself, therefore it uses ready shelter – usually holes dug out by goliath mole rat, huge local rodent. Usually the territory with a hole is occupied by female. Males are not so choosy in the choice of shelter: rich bushes as shelter are frequently enough for them.
This species of rodents has rather long pregnancy time, and the female brings only one litter in one year, in which there are about 5 cubs. Newborn cubs are helpless and female hides them in hole, closing an entrance with a bunch of prickly grass or bush pulled out from the ground. Cubs are born in the beginning of summer, and within the first month of life they do not leave shelter. The female watches the vicinities of shelter, and if necessary it is ready to distract a predator in order to withdraw it far away from shelter. Cubs behave very cautiously, even having learned to move. While the female is near to posterity, cubs can leave a hole and play, but at a first sign of danger they hide in. The posterity leaves a hole for ever at the age of about one and a half months. At this time colouring of cubs is cross-striped, that helps them to mask in grass better. It is the only protection of young animal. Usually young animals wait for returning of the female, having hidden in grass. In case of need cubs can escape from the enemy, quickly jumping and sharply changing direction of movement. When danger passes, they come back to a former place, waiting for the female returning. At the same time young animals begin to eat plants. At the end of summer the litter is fed in territory of the female, gaining weight. Young animals become independent to an autumn, having reached the weight of 8 – 9 kg. This is a very important time in their life: the young animal, not having accumulated a sufficient stock of hypodermic fat, easily becomes a victim of frost. In the first winter about a half of the young growth born in summer perishes because of various reasons. But the next year in autumn females become capable to pairing, and at the age of two years, after the second wintering in their life, they bring posterity the first time.
In winter, when it is more difficult to find food and danger of predator attacks is more probable, giant kangaroo jerboas gather to herds numbering over fifty animals, and wander on extensive territory. In spring, when snow thaws, the common territory of herd is broken into individual sites, and animals become solitary ones again.

Bush-climbing jerboa (Galagops scandens)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Jerboas (Dipodidae)

Habitat: Central Asia, bush thickets.
At the boundary of Holocene and Neocene ecosystems of the Earth had passed through a short-term stage of impoverishment of specific variety. As a result of human activity and climatic changes the majority of large species of vertebrates had died out. However, this process was accompanied by outburst of number and growth of specific variety of small mammals, mainly of rodents. In course of evolution these animals adapted to inhabiting in newly formed ecosystems. One example of this process is a small species of rodents from Central Asia, bush-climbing jerboa. Approximately 10 million years after end of Holocene congelation, when climate became humid, the area of steppes and semideserts of Central Asia was reduced, and they had partly given up the place to hardy bushy vegetation. The part of animal species lived in these places had died out, but some steppe species managed to adapt to inhabiting in places of new type of vegetation. Rodents have successfully mastered these habitats, having formed a significant amount of new species. Bush-climbing jerboa is one of them; being a descendant of certain low-specialized species of this family, it has developed a new way of movement – climbing and jumps among branches.
This small-sized rodent is a little similar to bushbaby prosimian in shape and a manner of movement. Bush-climbing jerboa reaches length of 25 cm; tail is up to 50 – 55 cm. Its rear legs are lengthened and have narrow long foot and short mobile toes. Forepaws of animal are also prehensile. Bush-climbing jerboa jumps in branches on rear legs, using tail as a balance weight, but it also can move in “galloping” movements, seizing branch alternately by front and rear paws. It is capable to climb down along tree trunk turning a tail downwards, but simply jumps off right on the ground from undersized trees and bushes (up to 3 meters high). This animal prefers to live in top part of tree crones where there is an opportunity to make long jumps. At the contact with branch toes of animal automatically grasp it.
Ears of this rodent are short, rounded and wide. They do not prevent to move on branches, but help to catch environmental sounds and serve as the good device of heat radiating. In hot weather blood vessels extend, and animal moistens external surface of auricles with urine at which evaporation there is better heat radiation.
Wool of bush-climbing jerboa has yellowish-brown colouring with several longitudinal strips of brown color; stomach is white. On tip of tail there is a switch of black color with white top. With its help animal gives signals to relatives and distracts attention of predators.
This is an omnivore eating seeds and buds of plants, and also small insects. Having an opportunity, bush-climbing jerboa can ravage bird nests. This rodent frequently lives near bushgophers, repairs their abandoned shelters and occupies them. In winter this rodent runs into hibernation. It spends winter in reliable shelter – usually in deep holes of other species of rodents. Frequently some animals gather and run into hibernation in common hole. Animals close the entrance to this hole with plug of dry grass. Feeling rigorous winter, animals may make some grass plugs.
Within spring and summer female has time to give birth to two litters of three – five cubs. To give birth to posterity the female uses abandoned bird nest in which it simply drags more stalks and leaves. Cubs are born naked and blind, but develop quickly. At the age of two weeks they already study to climb on branches.
In warmer areas of Eurasia bush-climbing jerboa is substituted by close species: grass-hopping jerboa (Galagops minusculus). This is dwarf similarity of bush-climbing jerboa: the adult grass-hopping jerboa is mouse-sized animal. It lives in thickets of high grasses, eats grains of various degrees of ripeness. In spring this little mammal eats buds and flowers of plants, insects and their larvae. It inhabits steppes of Three-Rivers-Land, and is spreaded to the west along northern coast of Fourseas. Grass-hopping jerboa frequently occupies a part of hole of digging rodents, peacefully getting on with hole owners.

Giant wood porcupine (Aepythizon megatherioides)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Wood porcupines (Erethizontidae)

Habitat: woods at plains and mountains of northwest of Northern America (to the west up to southern areas of Beringia).

Initial picture by Amplion, colorization by Lambert

Initial picture by Amplion

After extinction of plenty of hoofed mammals species at the border of Holocene and Neocene other herbivore mammals had occupied become empty ecological niches having caused fantastical species. There were rodents among them, huge by variety order including in Holocene basically small and absolutely tiny species. Certainly in various epochs of Cenozoic rodents more than once “tried” to come to middle- and large-sized class, and sometimes it happened most advantageously: the rhinoceros-sized rodent lived in South America and Pleistocene North-American species of beavers reached the size of bear had appeared among them. In Holocene largest representative of this group were beaver and capybara lived in rivers. But in Neocene having occupied various ecological niches rodents have fairly increased their size. In South America among rodents forms similar to antelopes and pigs, and also giants similar to ground sloths of Pliocene and Pleistocene have appeared. At the territory of Mexican plateau the bear-sized porcupine has lodged in Neocene. But in wood zone of Northern America this porcupine has even larger relative.
Giant wood porcupine is very large representative of Neocenic rodents (it weights up to 1 ton; growth of animal standing on hinder legs is up to 3 meters, general length is over 5 meters including tail). Back legs of this animal are longer than front ones; due to it animal can stand on two legs eating plants. Feet of hinder legs are covered with thick cornificate skin therefore animal equally easily can walk both on stones heated up by sun and on winter ice. It is a herbivorous animal; its food includes leaves and branches of various deciduous trees. In winter giant wood porcupine can eat even poorly nutritious branches of coniferous trees and roots digging out from ground. On forepaws of porcupine there are curve claws with which help animal gets food to itself and effectively protects from enemies. When the animal moves on four legs, it leans against lateral surface of fingers, claws thus are directed by tops to each other.
This species of animals lives in temperate zone frequently rising highly in mountains. Therefore in winter it should endure rather strong frosts. Fur helps it to do it becoming to winter thicker and denser. Colouring of fur is changeable, as well as at its desert neighbour: there are variants of colouring from light brown up to grey and straw-coloured. In fur the main protective weapon of the huge wood porcupine is hidden – very thick (up to 2 cm at the basis) needles up to 40 - 60 cm long. They are especially numerous on neck (from above and from sides) and shoulders and then grow by strip along back (up to the basis of tail). Thus, all places which predator prefers to attack are reliably protected. Needles are mobile; animal can lift and lower them depending on a situation. Sometimes (especially if the predator is weak or inexperienced) giant porcupine itself can attack it, striking impacts by needles growing on shoulders. Besides it can strongly bite by huge incisors. During fight the porcupine roars for frightening. But usually adult animals seldomly show their abilities: while they are strong and healthy they practically have no enemies. And cubs of huge porcupines can become easy catch of predators departing far from mother.
At the female in pack there are 1 – 2 cubs. The new litter appears once a year, but young growth long time stays with the female: last year's cubs continue to feed with mother after birth of new ones, abandoning her up to the time of sexual maturity (at the third year of life). Cubs are born without needles being overgrown by them at the first month of life. But the newborn wood porcupine is covered with wool, can see and already in half an hour after birth studies to walk. The wool of cubs of the first year of life is dark but after the first winter, during spring moult, colouring is shown which the animal will have all next life.
Sexual maturity comes at the third year of life. At this time young animals are already independent, and take part in courtship games which take place at the end of summer. On borders of individual possessions battles of males for the right of pairing with females happen. But these tournaments are not as substantial as at the desert bear porcupine: usually two males battle for one or two females. But fights happen fierce seldomly: more often all events may end by might demonstration. Contenders peel bark on tree trunks, pull out bunches of grass from the ground, urinate trees plentifully and snort loudly. Females observe of the duel from the side stimulating contenders by characteristic rumbling and spraying strongly smelling urine.
Pairing proceeds not for long and animals miss soon. But during carings the excited males can take cubs of any female for contenders and attack them. Frequently grown up young growth survived in winter and has got stronger, perishes from attacks of males in courtship season. But porcupine has successfully survived in youth can live about 60 years.

Striped tree porcupine (Bradycoendu lanceolatus)
Order: Rodents (Rodentia)
Family: Wood porcupines (Erethizontidae)

Habitat: woodlands of South America.
At the border of Holocene and Neocene, when the most part of rainforest of South America disappeared as a result of global cooling and climate aridization, the most part of tropical rainforest animals died out or had to change the way of life to survive. Among them there were various New World porcupines from South America, quite unusual rodents, which felt safe from the numerous enemies due to their quills.
Among mammals, rodents express a very wide adaptability, and have adapted to live everywhere, from the mountain slopes to fresh water. Some of their Neocene descendants even turned to marine animals, but the evolution of South American porcupines did not reach such extremes. Most part of them (for example, the sidespiny porcupine) still represents tree-dewelling animals, but there are exceptions in any rule, and the striped tree porcupine is one of these animal exceptions.
Striped tree porcupine is a relative of sidespiny porcupine and is a relatively large rodent, reaching almost 1.5 m in length and weighing up to 15 kg. It is covered with brown fur, from which very brightly colored quills protrude; the contrast combination of colour of quills and fur creates a striped zebra-like pattern, which makes this porcupine less noticeable among vegetation. The quills of this animal are longer than those of its Holocene predecessors. This species has short strong tail that serves as a support at tree-climbing and ground digging.
Unlike its relatives, striped tree porcupine is rather ponderous and spends only part of its life in the trees. It often comes down on the ground, searching there for some edible plants, bathes in dust and escapes from enemies (mostly birds of prey). This lifestyle has developed in connection with the fact that this rodent is one of the most southerly species of its family, and lives not in rainforest, where the climate is humid year-round, and the land is often waterlogged, but much farther south, where the climate is drier, with pronounced seasonality, and drought may take place in summer. As a result, the ancestors of this animal had to develop a new way of life.
The food of this animal includes various fruits and lush greens of ground-dwelling plants. In dry s