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Why did many odd-toed ungulates become extinct?

Why did many odd-toed ungulates become extinct?


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There were a lot of odd-toed ungulate animals in the ancient times but now just few of them survived. What is the reason for that?


there are two suborder under perissodactyla that are still suvival, Hippomorpha and Ceratomorpha. many perissodactyla species become extinct may bacause the member of perissodactyla animals have sample stomach, compared with artiodactyla, so after the plant change on the earth, they cannot adapt it. and also hinting was one part of reason. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odd-toed_ungulate


Artiodactyla

Artiodactyls are one of the two living orders of terrestrial mammals that comprise the ungulates, or hoofed mammals. These orders are distinguished primarily by the animals' feet: the Artiodactyla are known as the even-toed ungulates in contrast to the Perissodactyla, or odd-toed ungulates. The name Artiodactyla comes from the Greek words artios, meaning entire or even numbered, and dactylos for finger or toe. Artiodactyls are a highly successful order and the most abundant large land mammals living today with more than 220 species worldwide. This order includes many familiar wild species such as antelopes, deer, bison, and giraffes, along with the familiar and important domestic species such as camels, cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, and water buffalo.

Although many artiodactyl species are relatively large and well known, scientists are still discovering new species. Since 1992, five new species of artiodactyls have been described, including one (Pseudoryx), and possibly another (Megamuntiacus), making two new genera. Each of the new species occurs in Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam). In addition, the Vietnam warty pig (Sus bucculentus) previously thought to have become extinct, was rediscovered, and there was also a new species of Bovidae discovered based on horns of the supposed "Linh Duong" (Pseudonovibos spiralis), although this may be a hoax as the horns of at least some specimens have turned out to be fashioned from domestic cattle horns.


Contents

All species listed as "Extinct" are classified as being extinct (no known remaining individuals left) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All species listed as Extinct in the wild are classified as being extinct in the wild, meaning that all remaining individuals of the species reside in captivity. All species listed as "Possibly extinct" are classified as being critically endangered, as it is unknown whether or not these species are extinct. [5] Extinct subspecies such as the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) [6] are not listed here as the species, in this case Panthera tigris, is still extant. The IUCN Redlist classification for each species serves as a citation, and the superscripted "IUCN" by the date is a link to that species' page. A range map is provided wherever available, and a description of their former or current range is given if a range map is not available.

Habitat degradation is currently the main anthropogenic cause of species extinctions. The main cause of habitat degradation worldwide is agriculture, with urban sprawl, logging, mining and some fishing practices close behind. The physical destruction of a habitat, both directly (deforestation for land development or lumber) and indirectly (burning fossil fuels), is an example of this. [7] [8]

Also, increasing toxicity, through media such as pesticides, can kill off a species very rapidly, by killing all living members through contamination or sterilizing them. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), for example, can bioaccumulate to hazardous levels, getting increasingly more dangerous further up the food chain. [9]

Disease can also be a factor: white nose syndrome in bats, for example, is causing a substantial decline in their populations and may even lead to the extinction of a species. [10]

Overhunting also has an impact. Terrestrial mammals, such as the tiger and deer, are mainly hunted for their pelts and in some cases meat, and marine mammals can be hunted for their oil and leather. Specific targeting of one species can be problematic to the ecosystem because the sudden demise of one species can inadvertently lead to the demise of another (coextinction) especially if the targeted species is a keystone species. Sea otters, for example, were hunted in the maritime fur trade, and their drop in population led to the rise in sea urchins—their main food source—which decreased the population of kelp—the sea urchin's and Steller's sea cow's main food source—leading to the extinction of the Steller's sea cow. [11] The hunting of an already limited species can easily lead to its extinction, as with the bluebuck whose range was confined to 1,700 square miles (4,400 km 2 ) and which was hunted into extinction soon after discovery by European settlers. [12]

Australia Edit

Island creatures are usually endemic to only that island, and that limited range and small population can leave them vulnerable to sudden changes. [13] Australia and its unique fauna have suffered an extreme decline in mammal species, 10% of its 273 terrestrial mammals, since European settlement (a loss of one to two species per decade) in contrast, only one species in North America has become extinct since European settlement. Furthermore, 21% of Australia's mammals are threatened, and unlike in most other continents, the main cause is predation by feral species, such as cats. [14]

A species is declared extinct after exhaustive surveys of all potential habitats eliminate all reasonable doubt that the last individual of a species, whether in the wild or in captivity, has died. [15] Recently extinct species are defined by the IUCN as becoming extinct after 1500 CE. [1]

Common name Binomial name Order Date of extinction Former range Picture
Broad-faced potoroo Potorous platyops
Gould, 1844
Diprotodontia 1875 IUCN Australia
Eastern hare wallaby Lagorchestes leporides
Gould, 1841
Diprotodontia 1889 IUCN
Australia
Lake Mackay hare-wallaby Lagorchestes asomatus
Finlayson, 1943
Diprotodontia 1932 IUCN Australia
Desert rat-kangaroo Caloprymnus campestris
Gould, 1843
Diprotodontia 1935 IUCN
Australia
Thylacine,
or Tasmanian wolf/tiger
Thylacinus cynocephalus
Harris, 1808
Dasyuromorphia 1936 IUCN
Australia, Tasmania
Toolache wallaby Macropus greyi
Waterhouse, 1846
Diprotodontia 1939 IUCN Australia
Desert bandicoot Perameles eremiana
Spencer, 1837
Peramelemorphia 1943 IUCN Australia
Lesser bilby,
or Yallara
Macrotis leucura
Thomas, 1887
Peramelemorphia 1960s IUCN
Australia
Pig-footed bandicoot Chaeropus ecaudatus
Ogilby, 1838
Peramelemorphia 1950s IUCN
Australia
Crescent nail-tail wallaby Onychogalea lunata
Gould, 1841
Diprotodontia 1956 IUCN Australia (western and central)
Red-bellied gracile opossum,
or red-bellied gracile mouse opossum
Cryptonanus ignitus
Díaz, Flores and Barquez, 2002
Didelphimorphia 1962 IUCN Argentina
Nullarbor dwarf bettong Bettongia pusilla
McNamara, 1997
Diprotodontia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Australia (Nullarbor Plain)
Steller's sea cow Hydrodamalis gigas
von Zimmermann, 1780
Sirenia 1768 IUCN Commander Islands (Russia, United States)
Bramble Cay melomys Melomys rubicola
Thomas, 1924
Rodentia 2016 IUCN Australia (Bramble Cay)
Oriente cave rat Boromys offella
Miller, 1916
Rodentia early 1500s IUCN Cuba
Torre's cave rat Boromys torrei
Allen, 1917
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Cuba
Imposter hutia Hexolobodon phenax
Miller, 1929
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Hispaniola
Montane hutia Isolobodon montanus
Miller, 1922
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Hispaniola
Dwarf viscacha Lagostomus crassus
Thomas, 1910
Rodentia 1900 early 1900s IUCN Peru
Galápagos giant rat Megaoryzomys curioi
Niethammer, 1964
Rodentia 1500s IUCN Santa Cruz Island (Galápagos)
Cuban coney Geocapromys columbianus
Chapman, 1892
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Cuba
Hispaniolan edible rat Brotomys voratus
Miller, 1916
Rodentia 1536–1546 IUCN Hispaniola
Puerto Rican hutia Isolobodon portoricensis
Allen, 1916
Rodentia 1900 early 1900s IUCN Hispaniola introduced to Puerto Rico, Saint Thomas Island, Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and Mona Island
Big-eared hopping mouse Notomys macrotis
Thomas, 1921
Rodentia 1843 IUCN Australia (central Western Australia)
Darling Downs hopping mouse Notomys mordax
Thomas, 1921
Rodentia 1846 IUCN Australia (Darling Downs, Queensland)
White-footed rabbit-rat Conilurus albipes
Lichtenstein, 1829
Rodentia 1860 early 1860s IUCN Australia (eastern coast)
Capricorn rabbit rat Conilurus capricornensis
Cramb and Hocknull, 2010
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Australia (Queensland)
Short-tailed hopping mouse Notomys amplus
Brazenor, 1936
Rodentia 1896 IUCN Australia (Great Sandy Desert)
Nelson's rice rat Oryzomys nelsoni
Merriam, 1889
Rodentia 1897 IUCN Islas Marías, Mexico
Long-tailed hopping mouse Notomys longicaudatus
Gould, 1844
Rodentia 1901 IUCN Australia
Great hopping mouse Notomys robustus
Mahoney, Smith and Medlin, 2008
Rodentia 1500 mid 1800s IUCN Australia (Flinders and Davenport Ranges)
Desmarest's pilorie,
or Martinique giant rice rat
Megalomys desmarestii
Fischer, 1829
Rodentia 1902 IUCN Martinique
Saint Lucia pilorie,
or Saint Lucia giant rice rat
Megalomys luciae
Major, 1901
Rodentia 1881 1 Saint Lucia
Bulldog rat Rattus nativitatis
Thomas, 1888
Rodentia 1903 IUCN Christmas Island
Maclear's rat Rattus macleari
Thomas, 1887
Rodentia 1903 IUCN Christmas Island
Darwin's Galápagos mouse Nesoryzomys darwini
Osgood, 1929
Rodentia 1930 IUCN Galápagos Islands
Gould's mouse Pseudomys gouldii
Waterhouse, 1839
Rodentia 1930 IUCN Australia (southern half)
Plains rat,
or Palyoora
Pseudomys auritus
Thomas, 1910
Rodentia 1800 early 1800s IUCN Australia (Kangaroo Island and the Younghusband Peninsula)
Pemberton's deer mouse Peromyscus pembertoni
Burt, 1932
Rodentia 1931 IUCN San Pedro Nolasco Island, Mexico
Samaná hutia Plagiodontia ipnaeum
Johnson, 1948
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s [a] IUCN Hispaniola
Hispaniola monkey Antillothrix bernensis
MacPhee, Horovitz, Arredondo, & Jimenez Vasquez, 1995
Primates 16th century Dominican Republic
Lesser stick-nest rat,
or white-tipped stick-nest rat
Leporillus apicalis
John Gould, 1854
Rodentia 1933 IUCN Australia (west-central)
Indefatigable Galápagos mouse Nesoryzomys indefessus
Thomas, 1899
Rodentia 1934 IUCN Galápagos Islands
Little Swan Island hutia Geocapromys thoracatus
True, 1888
Rodentia 1955 IUCN Swan Islands, Honduras
Blue-gray mouse Pseudomys glaucus
Thomas, 1910
Rodentia 1956 IUCN Australia (Queensland, New South Wales)
Buhler's coryphomys
or Buhler's rat
Coryphomys buehleri
Schaub, 1937
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN West Timor, Indonesia
Insular cave rat Heteropsomys insulans
Anthony, 1916
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s IUCN Puerto Rico, Vieques Island
Candango mouse Juscelinomys candango
Moojen, 1965
Rodentia 1960 IUCN Central Brazil
Anthony's woodrat Neotoma anthonyi
Allen, 1898
Rodentia 1926 IUCN Isla Todos Santos, Mexico
Bunker's woodrat Neotoma bunkeri
Burt, 1932
Rodentia 1931 IUCN Coronado Islands, Mexico
Vespucci's rodent Noronhomys vespuccii
Carleton and Olson, 1999
Rodentia 1500 IUCN Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
St. Vincent colilargo,
or St. Vincent pygmy rice rat
Oligoryzomys victus
Thomas, 1898
Rodentia 1892 IUCN Saint Vincent
Jamaican rice rat Oryzomys antillarum
Thomas, 1898
Rodentia 1877 IUCN Jamaica
Nevis rice rat,
or St. Eustatius rice rat, St. Kitts rice rat
Pennatomys nivalis
Turvey, Weksler, Morris, and Nokkert, 2010
Rodentia 1500 early 1500s [b] IUCN Sint Eustatius and Saint Kitts and Nevis
Christmas Island pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi
Andrews, 1900
Chiroptera 2009 IUCN Christmas Island
Sardinian pika Prolagus sardus
Wagner, 1832
Lagomorpha 1774 IUCN Corsica and Sardinia
Marcano's solenodon Solenodon marcanoi
Patterson, 1962
Eulipotyphla 1500s IUCN Dominican Republic
Puerto Rican nesophontes Nesophontes edithae
Anthony, 1916
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Puerto Rico, Vieques Island, Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Atalaye nesophontes Nesophontes hypomicrus
Miller, 1929
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Hispaniola
Greater Cuban nesophontes Nesophontes major
Arredondo, 1970
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Cuba
Western Cuban nesophontes Nesophontes micrus
Allen, 1917
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, Haiti
St. Michel nesophontes Nesophontes paramicrus
Miller, 1929
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Hispaniola
Haitian nesophontes Nesophontes zamicrus
Miller, 1929
Eulipotyphla 1500 early 1500s IUCN Haiti
Lesser Mascarene flying fox,
or dark flying fox
Pteropus subniger
kerr, 1792
Chiroptera 1864 IUCN Réunion, Mauritius
Guam flying fox,
or Guam fruit bat
Pteropus tokudae
Tate, 1934
Chiroptera 1968 IUCN Guam
Dusky flying fox,
or Percy Island flying fox
Pteropus brunneus
Dobson, 1878
Chiroptera 1870 IUCN Percy Islands (Australia)
Large Palau flying fox Pteropus pilosus
Andersen, 1908
Chiroptera 1874 IUCN Palau
Large sloth lemur Palaeopropithecus ingens
Grandidier, 1899
Primate 1620 IUCN
In green
Aurochs Bos primigenius
Bojanus, 1827
Artiodactyla 1627 IUCN
Bluebuck Hippotragus leucophaeus
Pallas, 1766
Artiodactyla 1800 IUCN
Red gazelle Eudorcas rufina
Thomas, 1894
Artiodactyla 1800 late 1800s IUCN Algeria
Schomburgk's deer Rucervus schomburgki
Blyth, 1863
Artiodactyla 1932 IUCN Thailand
Queen of Sheba's gazelle,
or Yemen gazelle
Gazella bilkis
Grover and Lay, 1985
Artiodactyla 1951 IUCN Yemen
Saudi gazelle Gazella saudiya
Carruthers and Schwarz, 1935
Artiodactyla 2008 IUCN [c] Arabian Peninsula
Madagascan dwarf hippopotamus Hippopotamus lemerlei
Milne-Edwards, 1868
Artiodactyla 1500 early 1500s [d] IUCN Madagascar
Falkland Islands wolf or warrah Dusicyon australis
Kerr, 1792
Carnivora 1876 IUCN Falkland Islands
Burmeister's fox Dusicyon avus
Burmeister, 1866
Carnivora 1500 early 1500s IUCN Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay
Sea mink Neovison macrodon
Prentiss, 1903
Carnivora 1894 IUCN United States (Maine, Massachusetts) and Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland)
Japanese sea lion Zalophus japonicus
Peters, 1866
Carnivora 1970s IUCN Japan, Korea, Russia
Caribbean monk seal Neomonachus tropicalis
Gray, 1850
Carnivora 1952 IUCN Caribbean Sea
Giant fossa Cryptoprocta spelea
Grandidier, 1902
Carnivora 1500 before 1658 IUCN

A species that is extinct in the wild is one which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as only known by living members kept in captivity or as a naturalized population outside its historic range due to massive habitat loss. A species is declared extinct in the wild after thorough surveys have inspected its historic range and failed to find evidence of a surviving individual. [15]

Common name Binomial name Order Date of extinction Former range Picture
Père David's deer Elaphurus davidianus
Milne-Edwards, 1866
Artiodactyla 1939 IUCN China
Scimitar oryx Oryx dammah
Cretzschmar, 1827
Artiodactyla 2000 IUCN Sahara desert

Extinction of taxa is difficult to detect, as a long gap without a sighting is not definitive. Some mammals declared as extinct may very well reappear. [1] For example, a study found that 36% of purported mammalian extinction had been resolved, while the rest either had validity issues (insufficient evidence) or had been rediscovered. [3] As of December 2015, the IUCN listed 30 mammalian species as "critically endangered (possibly extinct)". [4]


Even-toed ungulates

The artiodactyls are found in every continent except Australia and Antarctica and in some of the coldest, hottest and driest environments on Earth. Most species are herbivorous and feed primarily on leaves. The even-toed ungulates have evolved arguably the best digestive system of any mammal in order to cope with the tough compounds found in the plant tissue they survive on.

Artiodactyls are a very diverse order of mammals with 240 species from 89 genera. Some species live in immense herds and take on great migrations such as the great wildebeest migration across the Serengeti of Africa. Many species of even-toed ungulates, such as cattle, sheep and deer, are of great economic importance and the foundations of multi-billion dollar industries.

The animals of the suborder Ruminantia, which includes all even-toed ungulates except the camel and pig families, have large chambered stomachs where food is held and undergoes microbial fermentation. Microorganisms in their stomachs possess enzymes that can split tough cellulose compounds found in plant tissue. The fermentation of food in the stomach by microbes improves digestion by releasing proteins, carbohydrates and lipids from plant tissue and the nitrogen released during the breakdown of cellulose is used by gut microbes to produce proteins which are later digested in the animal’s intestines.

Bovids

The bovids are the largest family of even-toed ungulates and the most economically important. Cows, sheep, goats, bison, buffalos, antelopes, ox and many other animals belong to this large family of 143 species. Wild species are found in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America while domesticated species occur almost wherever humans are found. They live primarily in grasslands feeding mostly on grasses.

All wild males grow horns and in some species so do females. One set of horns will span the entire life of an animal and in many species they will never stop growing until death. Other bovids include impalas, wildebeests, springboks, gazelles, ibex, tahr, chamois, oryx and waterbuck.

Giraffes

Giraffes are one the most impressive mammals that currently live on Earth. They possess an immensely long neck and legs but still manage to perform tasks such as running with an impressive amount of ability. The distribution of giraffes is limited to Africa, south of the Saharan desert and they mostly inhabit savanna type environments. They feed on the leaves and twigs of trees up to 6 m high. Giraffes belong to the family Giraffidae which includes one other genus of animal called Okapia, commonly known as okapi.

Deer and moose

Deer and moose belong to the family Carvidae which also includes elk, caribou and muntjacs. They are found naturally in all continents except Australia and Antarctica. They inhabit arctic to tropical environments and do particularly well in cold and mountainous regions. The cervids are characterized by their antlers which are grown annually. Apart from caribou, antlers are only found in males. Deer, moose and other cervids are all herbivores.

Hippopotamus

The hippopotamus is a large bulky ungulate that can weigh over 3000 kg. They are found only in Africa and spend the majority of their time in water calves are even born and reared within the water. They live in groups and display complex levels of communication similar to whales. The hippopotamus belongs to the family Hippopotamidae which also includes the pygmy hippopotamus and is more closely related to whales and dolphins than any other ungulate family.

Pigs and their relatives

Pigs, warthogs, boars, babirusa and hogs belong to the family Suidae. Besides warthogs who live in savannas or grassland, suids mostly prefer forested habitats. They are found naturally in Asia, Africa and Europe, although the domesticated species are now distributed around the world.

Suids are omnivorous and will often scavenge on dead and decaying animals. Pigs and other members of the family Suidae have large ever-growing canines and their upper canines create tusks. The largest suids can weigh up to 280 kg.

Camels

Llamas, alpacas and camels belong to the ungulate family Camelidae and are restricted primarily to dry environments such as deserts. Camels are found through Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia and South America is home to llamas and alpacas. The largest camels can weigh up to 650 kg and all camelids have long necks and limbs. Camels are extremely well adapted to living in dry areas. In order to conserve water they produce dry faeces and very little urine.


Density-independent Regulation and Interaction with Density-dependent Factors

Many factors that are typically physical in nature cause mortality of a population regardless of its density. These factors include weather, natural disasters, and pollution. An individual deer will be killed in a forest fire regardless of how many deer happen to be in that area. Its chances of survival are the same whether the population density is high or low. The same holds true for cold winter weather.

In real-life situations, population regulation is very complicated and density-dependent and independent factors can interact. A dense population that suffers mortality from a density-independent cause will be able to recover differently than a sparse population. For example, a population of deer affected by a harsh winter will recover faster if there are more deer remaining to reproduce.

EVOLUTION IN ACTION:Why Did the Woolly Mammoth Go Extinct?

Figure 19.2.4: The three images include: (a) 1916 mural of a mammoth herd from the American Museum of Natural History, (b) the only stuffed mammoth in the world is in the Museum of Zoology located in St. Petersburg, Russia, and (c) a one-month-old baby mammoth, named Lyuba, discovered in Siberia in 2007. (credit a: modification of work by Charles R. Knight credit b: modification of work by &ldquoTanapon&rdquo/Flickr credit c: modification of work by Matt Howry)

Woolly mammoths began to go extinct about 10,000 years ago, soon after paleontologists believe humans able to hunt them began to colonize North America and northern Eurasia (Figure 19.2.4). A mammoth population survived on Wrangel Island, in the East Siberian Sea, and was isolated from human contact until as recently as 1700 BC. We know a lot about these animals from carcasses found frozen in the ice of Siberia and other northern regions.

It is commonly thought that climate change and human hunting led to their extinction. A 2008 study estimated that climate change reduced the mammoth&rsquos range from 3,000,000 square miles 42,000 years ago to 310,000 square miles 6,000 years ago. 2 Through archaeological evidence of kill sites, it is also well documented that humans hunted these animals. A 2012 study concluded that no single factor was exclusively responsible for the extinction of these magnificent creatures. 3 In addition to climate change and reduction of habitat, scientists demonstrated another important factor in the mammoth&rsquos extinction was the migration of human hunters across the Bering Strait to North America during the last ice age 20,000 years ago.

The maintenance of stable populations was and is very complex, with many interacting factors determining the outcome. It is important to remember that humans are also part of nature. Once we contributed to a species&rsquo decline using primitive hunting technology only.

Population ecologists have hypothesized that suites of characteristics may evolve in species that lead to particular adaptations to their environments. These adaptations impact the kind of population growth their species experience. Life history characteristics such as birth rates, age at first reproduction, the numbers of offspring, and even death rates evolve just like anatomy or behavior, leading to adaptations that affect population growth. Population ecologists have described a continuum of life-history &ldquostrategies&rdquo with K-selected species on one end and r-selected species on the other. K-selected species are adapted to stable, predictable environments. Populations of K-selected species tend to exist close to their carrying capacity. These species tend to have larger, but fewer, offspring and contribute large amounts of resources to each offspring. Elephants would be an example of a K-selected species. r-selected species are adapted to unstable and unpredictable environments. They have large numbers of small offspring. Animals that are r-selected do not provide a lot of resources or parental care to offspring, and the offspring are relatively self-sufficient at birth. Examples of r-selected species are marine invertebrates such as jellyfish and plants such as the dandelion. The two extreme strategies are at two ends of a continuum on which real species life histories will exist. In addition, life history strategies do not need to evolve as suites, but can evolve independently of each other, so each species may have some characteristics that trend toward one extreme or the other.


After the Holocene

Debuting after the catastrophic K-Pg Extinction Event, the Cenozoic was a fascinating time in Earth’s history. The dominant class in the period were the mammals. Already producing some unique forms in the Mesozoic, the absence of Dinosaurs meant that there was a boom in their diversity, ranging in vast differences of shapes and sizes. The era can be divided up into four eras: the Paleogene, Neogene, the Quaternary, and a fourth period yet to come, one known as the Metahologene. Separating the last one is the metahologene’s namesake, the Holocene epoch of the Quaternary. The Holocene was primarily dominated by a species of highly intelligent cosmopolitan orthograde ape, also known as us Humans. In just a few hundred thousand years, we utterly transformed the surface of the planet to suit what we needed, particularly from the year 12,1760. However, in the process they caused Earth’s climate to heat up at an accelerated rate and caused much of its species to go extinct through various means, resulting in the first extinction done entirely by a single species.

Eventually however, humanity started to realise that we were slowly but surely making negatively affecting the Earth. Many of them began to create new ways to help soften or even reverse the damages. In many regards, it was moderately successful. CO2 levels fell down, global warming was slowed, and in some cases reversed, and much of earth’s ecosystems were restored, culminating in us leaving Earth entirely. However, many of our effects continued to linger on. Many places’ ecosystems were beyond repair, and 20% of all species on Earth were still extinct. Indeed, around 500,000 years later, a large glaciation would occur, wiping out another 4%. What mattered the most, however, was that the Holocene-Metahologene Extinction Event was nowhere as devastating as it could have been in fact many groups, such as sea turtles, primates, and felids managed to scrap by, albeit just barely.

What followed up was the start of the next period in the Cenozoic, the Metahologene. Spanning a 126 million year period, the period marks the extinction of many familiar groups of animals present during the Holocene, giving rise to a new generation of fauna, including new classes and clades of animals, while other groups remain relatively unchanged. All in all, the Metahologene was another fascinating time among the many others in Earth’s time.

Metahologene Stages

- Ultimicryocras (2.03 million years to 15.6 million years) - The first epoch of the Metahologene and the last of the current ice age. Huge ice sheets lay across the Earth, coming as far south and north as Bangor and Melbourne at one point, and sea levels are much lower than today at twelve meters less. Notable changes in geography include the East African Rift’s increase in size as well as a shift in convection currents in the mantle causing certain plates to change direction. Due to drastic lowering of sea levels, many landmasses expand in area and become connected to others, such as most of the Sahul or the Comoros, as well as the Mediterranean drying up as Africa closes the straits of Gibraltar with Europe. New equilibriums for ecosystems are set with introduced species evolving in tandem with native species or replacing them, such as wild boars and snakes on various south pacific islands for instance.

- Pitosicras (15.6 to 45.1 million years hence) - During the Pitosicras, the global climate once again warms as the last of anthropogenic global warming and the Holocene’s effects take hold, leading the coastlines being drowned. Perissodactyls, ursids, crocodilians, and corvids among other groups experience a new boom in diversity during this period. In terms of geography, Europe is continuously pushed to the north pole as Africa further collides with it and forming a huge mountain range, the Nubian Plate fully separates from mainland Africa forming the island continent of Magufuli (after Tanzania’s incumbent president), and the australian plate starts to change direction and head northeastwards.

- Schaltericras (45.4 to 52.6 million years hence) - The Schaltericras sees a moderate extinction of certain groups, such as monotremes, marsupials, canids, and paleognaths, while new clades and families evolve and diversify during the same period, from volant rodents, to bipedal lizards with asymmetrically-sized hands, to pelagic spiders and ants. Earth’s climate dips once more during this period, with parts of North America and Eurasia becoming permanently fused with one another for the next hundred million years and Australia goes southeast. The temperature has also started to go upwards around the middle of the Schaltericras. The period also sees the development of an entire new class of animal derived from lizards: Multapartia, distinguished primarily by laying extra large eggs that contain multiple young.

- Austroscras 52.6 to 100.2 million years hence) - During the Austrocras, the temperature goes up following a very small basalt eruption, causing a minor extinction event. East Antarctica drifts northwards, colliding into South America, blocking the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and helping to heat up the continent’s coast, allowing for further colonisation of the newly thawed continent. The average temperature has continued to rise in the Austrocras, and coastal areas are drowned, including what remains of Magufuli, which turns into an archipelago. Australia has also collided with South America to form a new continent known as Gonderra. In the decline of groups such as ungulates and feliformes at the time, carnivorans descended from procyonids start to take their place and diversify.

- Fulgaricras (100.2 to 128.9 million years hence) - The last epoch of the Metahologene as well as that of the Cenozoic as a whole. Massive supercells in the Atlantic and Pacific give the Fulgaricras (from Fulgar, the latin word for lighting) its name, affecting the ecosystems of various continents heavily. Global temperatures are much higher at around an average of 28° Celsius and a minimum of 12° Celsius. The temperature has also caused massive tracts of tropical forests reminiscent of the Eocene to develop across Earth at this period, home to a vast assortment of wildlife, such another new class, the pentapods, distinguished by actually having a fifth limb on the underside used for multiple purposes. Towards the end of this period, a new sophont evolves from frogs, but their development is cut off by a massive extinction event where three asteroids strike Earth in a very short period, killing off 82% of life on Earth, and reducing mammal diversity by nearly 95%.
[+] Spoiler [+] Spoiler Geography
-
(This is meant to be my first big project I have made in a long while. I worked on this over the summer, and hope to update this over the school year. Feedback for this will be apprenticed.)

Current/Completed Projects
- After the Holocene: Your run-of-the-mill future evolution project.
- A History of the Odessa Rhinoceros: What happens when you ship 28 southern white rhinoceri to Texas and try and farm them? Quite a lot, actually.
- XenoSphere: The greatest zoo in the galaxy.

Future Projects
- The Curious Case of the Woolly Giraffe: A case study of an eocene relic.
- Untittled Asylum Studios-Based Project: The truth behind all the CGI schlock
- Riggslandia V.II: A World 150 million years in the making

Potential Projects
- Klowns: The biology and culture of a creepy-yet-fascinating being

My Zoochat and Fadom Accounts
- Zoochat
- Fandom

Sep 01, 2017 #2 2017-09-01T21:07

The format kinda reminds me of my original project (before ARTH-6810). Of course, that thing was an abomination.


This does look good. I can't wait to see more.

I'm calling it right now, pentapods came from proyconids.

Projects
Punga: A terraformed world with no vertebrates
Last one crawling: The last arthropod

ARTH-6810: A world without vertebrates (It's ded, but you can still read I guess)

Potential ideas-
Swamp world: A world covered in lakes, with the largest being caspian sized.
Nematozoic: After a mass extinction of ultimate proportions, a single species of nematode is the only surviving animal.
Tri-devonian: A devonian like ecosystem with holocene species on three different continents.
[+] Spoiler "Arthropod respiratory systems aren't really "inefficient", they're just better suited to their body size. It would be quite inefficient for a tiny creature that can easily get all the oxygen it needs through passive diffusion to have a respiratory system that wastes energy on muscles that pump air into sacs. (Hence why lungless salamanders, uniquely miniscule and hyperabundant tetrapods, have ditched their lungs in favor of breathing with their skin and buccal mucous membranes.) But large, active insects already use muscles to pump air in and out of their spiracles, and I don't see why their tracheae couldn't develop pseudo- lungs if other conditions pressured them to grow larger."-HangingTheif

"Considering the lifespans of modern non- insect arthropods (decade-old old millipedes, 50 year old tarantulas, 100+ year old lobsters) I wouldn't be surprised if Arthropleura had a lifespan exceeding that of a large testudine"-HangingTheif

"Humans have a tribal mindset and it's not alien for tribes to war on each other. I mean, look at the atrocities chimpanzee tribes do to each other. Most of people's groupings and big conflicts in history are directly or obliquely manifestations of this tribal mindset."-Sceynyos-yis

"He's the leader of the bunch
You know his Coconut Gun
is finally back
to fire in spurts.
His Coconut Gun
Can make you smile
If he shoots ya
it's firing in spurts.
His Coconut Gun
Is bigger, faster, stronger too!
He's the gun member
of the Coconut Crew!
HUH!

C.G.! Coconut Gun!
C.G.! Co-Coconut Gun!
Shoot yourself with a Coconut Gun!
HUH!"-Kamineigh

"RIP, rest in Peytoia."-Little

"In Summary: Piss on Lovecraft's racist grave by making lewds of Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep.

Then eat arby's and embrace the void."-Kamineigh

"Dougal Dixon rule 34."-Sayornis [+] Spoiler [+] Spoiler [+] Spoiler











[+] Spoiler http://rob-powell.deviantart.com/art/Ve . -275086084
http://rob-powell.deviantart.com/art/Ex . -294860775
https://books.google.com/books?id=m-_cC . sm&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=wKbfb . es&f=false [+] Spoiler

Sep 01, 2017 #3 2017-09-01T21:28

Sep 01, 2017 #4 2017-09-01T21:30

Current/Completed Projects
- After the Holocene: Your run-of-the-mill future evolution project.
- A History of the Odessa Rhinoceros: What happens when you ship 28 southern white rhinoceri to Texas and try and farm them? Quite a lot, actually.
- XenoSphere: The greatest zoo in the galaxy.

Future Projects
- The Curious Case of the Woolly Giraffe: A case study of an eocene relic.
- Untittled Asylum Studios-Based Project: The truth behind all the CGI schlock
- Riggslandia V.II: A World 150 million years in the making

Potential Projects
- Klowns: The biology and culture of a creepy-yet-fascinating being

My Zoochat and Fadom Accounts
- Zoochat
- Fandom

Sep 01, 2017 #5 2017-09-01T22:10

Sep 01, 2017 #6 2017-09-01T22:11

Current/Completed Projects
- After the Holocene: Your run-of-the-mill future evolution project.
- A History of the Odessa Rhinoceros: What happens when you ship 28 southern white rhinoceri to Texas and try and farm them? Quite a lot, actually.
- XenoSphere: The greatest zoo in the galaxy.

Future Projects
- The Curious Case of the Woolly Giraffe: A case study of an eocene relic.
- Untittled Asylum Studios-Based Project: The truth behind all the CGI schlock
- Riggslandia V.II: A World 150 million years in the making

Potential Projects
- Klowns: The biology and culture of a creepy-yet-fascinating being

My Zoochat and Fadom Accounts
- Zoochat
- Fandom

Sep 02, 2017 #7 2017-09-02T18:55

I like oranges
I also like a wide variety of Abantu abathandekayo, Happy Birthday!
Is anyone truly sane? Is anybody truly insane? Does Appa have diabetes? Is Appa the avatar? Do I look like Ajit Pai? My friends have been asking me why I removed net neutrality. Am I even real. Existential Crisis in progress, DO NOT DISTURB.

Oct 31, 2017 #8 2017-10-31T16:02

Perissodactyls, or odd-toed ungulates are defined as ungulates that have a single toe which supported their weight rather than both. While they never reached the level of diversity of their sister order artiodactyla, towards the middle of the Cenozoic the odd-toed ungulates started to enter a diversity bottleneck. The many species of rhinos and equids that dotted the plains of almost every continent outside of Oceania and Antarctica started to disappear as humans began to invoke the shifting of climate patterns and hunt them into extinction. Even into the late quaternary, the few species of rhino left in Africa and Asia were sent into near extinction by them, with tapirs only faring a little better. On the other hand however, humans harnessed one genus of them, Equus to help transport and grow them and their creations, before gradually being replaced (for the most part) by human machinery. Occasionally, these animals would be left to go feral, ironically filling the niche left behind by their extinct species, but they would always be culled or redomesticated by them. Around 1200 years from now, however, when humans began leaving Earth, they introduced horses

Ultimicryocras

The first epoch of the Metahologene marked a bottleneck of perissodactyl diversity. On one hand, the suborder Ceratomorpha, containing the rhinoceri and the tapirs, had a very large decline, barely even making it to the middle of the epoch before they went extinct entirely. On the other hand, the equids of the order Hippomorpha experienced a large rise in diversity, giving rise to many new tribes and subfamilies .

- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Clade: Synapsida
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Suborder: Hippomorpha
- Family: Equidae
- Subfamily: Equinae
- Tribe: Notoequini
- Subtribe: Notoequina
- Genus: Ferequus
- Species: F. dressagis (Dressage Wild Horse)
- Subspecies: Floridan Hoedow (F. d. flamencomodus), New Mexican Hoedow (F. d. hankwilliamsii)
- Temporal Range: 6.05-8.78 Million Years

Hoedows are a species of horse found in much of the US 3 million years hence towards the start of the Ultimicryocras, descended from the feral mustangs introduced by spanish settlers as well as dressage horses used in the sport of the same name. They have a rather long and slender frame at around 18 1/2 hands (1.8 meters) and 3 kilograms. Notably, they have flaps of skin stretching from the knees to the girth of the horse. These flaps are used for display, specifically during the mating season.

Uniquely among ungulates as well as large mammals in general, hoedows perform elaborate courtship dances, a behavioral trait most likely inherited from some of their ancestors, who were likely in the sport of dressage. During the mating season, hoedows will continuously trot in rhythmic fashions, perform kicks and jumps, and rearing up with their forelimbs outstretched, while blood flows to the flaps to produce rich mahogany and orange hues on them. Hoedows usually live in breeding pairs or small groups of around six to thirteen individuals. In the case of the latter, they are led by the stallion with the largest forelimb flaps.

- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Clade: Synapsida
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Suborder: Hippomorpha
- Family: Equidae
- Subfamily: Equinae
- Tribe: Alpitherini
- Subtribe: Digitudontina
- Genus: Extendontus (Long Tooth)
- Subgenus : Belluhippus (Watching Horse)
- Species: Digitudontus simatodotisus (Signalling long tooth)
- Temporal Range: 1.08-10.53 Million Years

The Seinpaal is a species of alpitherine, a tribe of equines primarily found in central and western Europe consisting of six species. Native to what was once much of France, the Iberian Peninsula, the UK, the Low Countries and Germany, seinpaals stand on average around 1.5 meters (15 hands) and weigh 378 kilograms in the male and 350 kilos in the females, and are typically coloured light cinnamon to dark yellow. While most of the seinpaal is rather unremarkable in terms of physical appearance, it’s the head, specifically the lower jaw of the animal is the most striking.

On the lower jaw of of the seinpaal and the top jaw, the incisors and canines are extremely lengthened to over 40 centimeters long and 30 centimeters wide, making them some of the largest teeth ever in ungulates. These teeth, which can easily be described as tusks, jut right out of the mouth. Connected to the roots of the teeth are special ligaments which allow the teeth to articulate, able to move in over 245 degrees up and down and 98 degrees forwards and back. Seinpaals mostly use these teeth to visually communicate with one another by flexing and positioning them. For instance, teeth flared outwards to the side and flexing up and down repeatedly would indicate aggression, or relaxed, inwards teeth would mean the animal is calm. Other uses they have are grooming and cleaning itself and manipulating food around. They are mostly useless in interspecies and intraspecies combat, due to being rather weak and dull, as well as being rather lightweight, only about 95 grams. In order to avoid drying out and becoming more fragile, seinpaals need to constantly submerged in water to keep them moist.

Perissodactyls during the Pitosicras underwent an increase in diversity, producing some of the more unique groups of the order’s history towards the end of the period. This was a relic of the desertification common during the Ultimicryocras, as their hind-gut fermentation allowed them to gain an advantage over other ungulates, ranging from large macropredators to tiny frugivores. By the middle of the period, the classic cursorial grazing equids had become rarities, replaced by other groups of animals.

Paracentauroidea

  • Okichitaws (Ksiistsikotheridae): a family of paracentauroids distinguished by having thicker legbones and more ellipsoid-shaped hooves, native to North America and parts of northeastern Eurasia.
  • Kelpies (Tenaxitoridae): A family found primarily throughout the continuous Eurasia as well as much of Africa, many of which are specialised to a piscivorous lifestyle, having conical teeth to grip fish

Commonly found on the plains and forests of central and northern North America, the herculean knocker is one of the largest Perissodactyls ever in terms of height (4.4 meters/43 hands). Knockers are a type of horse descendant, descended from horses gone feral in North America. Like most of its superfamily, it is a fully bipedal species, standing hunched over on muscular hind legs. To help balance the animal, the tail has lengthened and stiffened to around 2.5 meters long and 30 centimeters wide, and is covered in stiff keratinised hairs which help weigh it down by around four kilograms. However, most notable are the knocker’s signature forelimbs. The one-point-ninety long arms have large muscles tipped with ellipsoid-shaped hooves. These hooves are what give the knocker a deadly advantage when hunting its prey. When the herculean knocker hunts, typically big, bulky grazers, it will first stalk its prey, roaming in the edge of trees or in tall grass to conceal itself. When it is around eight meters away from its prey item, it will launch itself and charge at it at over 30 kilometers an hour. They will then attempt to strike the animal with its hooves to knock it off its balance as well as cause internal bleeding within the animal and bone fractures. When it finally does so, the herculean knocker will proceed to bite and tear at the animal’s flesh. The molars and premolars of the knocker are reduced to vestigial nubs at beast used for grinding up harder tissue.

Despite their scientific name, which means ‘night mare’ (an obvious pun on nightmare), herculean knockers are primarily crepuscular rather than nocturnal, being most active at dawn and dusk. During the day, they will simply lie in the shade of trees or other shaded areas resting. During the much more mild autumn and spring seasons, though, they will be found roaming the plains and forests well into midday and midnight. They are a polygamous species, with a herculean knocker mare having mating rights to a harem of two to ten stallions, mating from Late August to mid-September. The stallions will then raise the foals independently of the mare throughout the spring. During this time, the foals will go on and eat plant matter, typically leaves or fruits, for nutritional purposes.

Schaltericras

It is during the Schaltericras that Perissodactyla experienced a sharp decrease in species diversity. Indeed, it is during this period that most of the entire order (outside of biological groups which were derived from them) would go extinct by the final two ages of the period. Due to competition from newer clades with more efficient digestive systems, such as derived rodents, as becoming increasingly overspecialised, as well as most groups becoming increasingly specialised. Nevertheless, unique groups would still be produced.

Current/Completed Projects
- After the Holocene: Your run-of-the-mill future evolution project.
- A History of the Odessa Rhinoceros: What happens when you ship 28 southern white rhinoceri to Texas and try and farm them? Quite a lot, actually.
- XenoSphere: The greatest zoo in the galaxy.

Future Projects
- The Curious Case of the Woolly Giraffe: A case study of an eocene relic.
- Untittled Asylum Studios-Based Project: The truth behind all the CGI schlock
- Riggslandia V.II: A World 150 million years in the making

Potential Projects
- Klowns: The biology and culture of a creepy-yet-fascinating being

My Zoochat and Fadom Accounts
- Zoochat
- Fandom

Oct 31, 2017 #9 2017-10-31T18:07

[+] Spoiler OctoSharkTaSaurus: WELP. HELL-O-PHANTS IT IS.
Kamineigh: I was six and I had started having fantasies about this old crone dying. Sometimes by my own hand. YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING HORRIBLY WRONG IF A SIX-YEAR OLD WANTS TO KILL YOU WITH THE SAME HANDS HE JUST USED TO MAKE A BLOCK TOWER.
Parasky: No, he's right, they have a medical grade walrus at most hospitals for that sort of thing.
Mr Mysterio, regarding yours truly: I'm learning things about you that I'm not sure I wanted to know.
HangingThief: An otologist is only as good as his walrus
Stealth_Rock: We have a discord for double penetration?
Ichthyander: If your eyelids are massive enough to significantly affect the path of light in space, it is time to go sleep.
Mr Mysterio: Glarn-Glarn, don't. don't fuck the cave baboons.
Kamineigh: They lacked wings. Instead, they went around in modified pilot's gear and beat the shit out of people using maces.
Parasky: No! We will not calm down! This is a serious argument over whether or not some long dead animal is in any way similar to a group of modern animals that they are descended from! THIS. IS. SEWIOUS.
Lamna: Obvious typo, I'm never going to be popular in Belgium.
Trex841: Interesting point. Valid counterpoint. Self-obsessed psychotic rant.
Parasky: No ties. Begin genetically modifying crows until we have organisms that roughly resemble those in the competition, and then have them fight to the death to see who wins this competition. Alternatively, Cephalian and SabrWolf could fight to the death. But at the end of the day something will be fighting to the death for my amusement to determine the winner.
Yellowdrakex: Is it alright to have an irrational fear of gliding snakes? They're snakes. FROM ABOVE.
Kamineigh: See, you wouldn't be in this mess if you began a bloody revolution every time your leaders showed to unsatisfactory.
Zihuatanejo: Somewhere in heaven, a very groggy, very confused angel has just woken up and is trying to figure out why a boisterous Australian man is poking it with a stick.
Komodo: I'm sorry but in what alternative universe would thousands of zebras be sent back in time by some sort of illegal time travel group to change history and preparing them by making gigantic working animatronic allosaurs? Seriously, why?
Parasky: Maybe y'all should move to America, where you can flex your freedom muscles.
Sir Spookums: It's a game about children catching super powered monsters, stuffing them in tiny balls, and battling other strangers' monsters. What about that makes sense in regards to anything, mister Kam?
Des Orages: Yi qi. Just when you think you've seen it all, nature screws us over once more.
Kaminiegh: This is clearly an inaccurate statement. I'd never challenge the authority of an admin. Unless Paraksytron stubbed his toe and fell over. THEN I, STARSCREIGHM, WILL BECOME THE NEW LEADER OF OF THE DE-SPECU-CONS!
Dragon: Is normal a good word to use for describing any of us?
Velociraptor: I once dreamed I was trying to steal a flamingo. The flamingo was oddly calm about the whole situation.
Kaminiegh: THAT'S IT, I'M KINKSHAMING.
Flashman63: In its 4,600 year history, men from all eras, places and classes have been entering into the Library: from the ancient bearded sages of Sumeria and Chaldea, to the sober-minded Academics and Zoologists of the Victorian era, to the great warlord Cletus, an inbred hillbilly who just happened to be carrying his AR-15 around his County's Strip-Mall library.
OctoSharktasaurus: Well, uh, it's a pseudo-tripedal, terrestrial subcontinental Madagascan Beaked Whale. Is that not obvious? It literally says it blatantly.
Holben: Did you not add lamb's blood to your fruit juice and the crushed bones of an englishman to your salsa? It's not authentic if you don't.
Kaminiegh: Shut up, Hybrid, stop ruining my chances of time-travelling and getting some Neanderthal tail!
Mr Mysterio: Except maybe Canada. If ever there was a country that was hiding secret reserves of powerful alien technology, it's probably mine.
HangingThief: If you answered mainly "yes," you are most likely a salamander. Unfortunately it is becoming harder and harder to tell these days.
Monster: In vaguely related news, I've developed a fear of my sewing machine. WHAT ARE YOU STRANGE NEEDLEBEAST
Mynxi: He sowed the seed, I merely pissed on it and saw what grew.
Beetleboy: The moral of the story: never trust a catfish.
Parasky: Speaking of original, note to self: write erotic classical Chinese literature fan fiction Bromance of the Three Kingdoms under pseudonym Tuck Chingle.
Little: Starting playing DND, took all of an hour of gameplay until a yuri love-triangle was initiated. And no, it was not my fault.
Corecin: If this is your first time with a lesbian love triangle in a DnD game than you don't even have to specify that you're starting out.
Octo: Oh no now Little will enlighten with the deep and complex subject that is hentai lore.
Beetleboy: It shows what kind of person I am that I'm seeking crush advice on a forum about creating fictional organisms.
Corecin: I am not in the mood for looking up yuri because then the FBI agent monitoring my computer will judge me with reckless abandon.
Blue_Komrade: Excuse me sir I am going to have to see if you have your membership card to the Misanthrope Club.
Parasky: Ultimately, by the miracle of microbiology and biochemistry, I have accidentally added an additional month to my brew and created a Bavarian style hefeweizen rather than the American style wheat beer I planned, despite technically not having the correct ingredients. However because I wrote down what I did wrong its not a mistake it's actually science.
Rebirth: I can't be the only one curious about what would happen if you spayed and neutered a male antechinus before it reached sexual maturity.
Ebervalius: Laws? What kind of spooky cuckery is that?
Parasky: Ah see, but that's just the thing, you thought that I thought that you thought that I had said you hadn't read it, when really I had said that you had said that you thought that I thought that you hadn't read it. So really it's Flisch's fault. Co-creator/corporate minion for the Pop Culture Monster Apocalypse!

Retrozoic Park: Where the Past Comes to Life
(Idea thread is here!) Coming Soon [+] Spoiler Evolutionary Continuum:
Jurassic Safari: An adventure 65 million years in the making continues.
The Future is Altered: When man plays God, he plays to win.

Alternative Evolution:
The Extended Jurassic: The time of the titans extends through the Cretaceous
Xensaron: Second chance for the strange

The Habitable Zone:
Bellator: A World at War
Pentrex: The five worlds of the five champions of the dinosaur world, together at last.

Alternate Universes:
Terra Venatus: Where fantasy comes to life
Terra Incognita: Planet Earth, now with 150% more pulp!
Sol and its Surrounding Worlds: A Guide to the Organisms and Peoples of the Solar System (Companion to Terra Incognita)
Guide to the Ark: .


The Lost World of South American Ungulates: A YEC Ungulate Problem

Life is incredibly diverse. Millions of species fill the seas, land and skies of our planetary home. It seems as if there is no end to the discovery of new animals, plants and other life forms. As a biologist who teaches a class about plant diversity, I can always count on discovering a new group of plants that I have never seen before which is always exciting. But what blows my mind even more is the thought that the diversity I witness today is but a tiny fraction of the diversity of life that has lived on this Earth.

the mind-boggling estimates of number of species that have lived on earth versus the number alive right now. Extinct marine reptiles on the left and cetacean alive today on the right. Image: Joel Duff

We know this because of the vast fossil record. In fact, when we start to realize all the diversity in the fossil record, the organisms alive today can start to seem a bit mundane. And I am not just talking about dinosaurs. Sure, the famous megafauna—T-rex , triceratops, saber-tooth tigers and mastodons— get all the attention. But these are just a small fraction of the fauna, much less the extinct plants, that have lived.

Nearly every day I stumble across an extinct group or organisms I had never encountered before. It is rather exciting to think that I could learn about a new group of organisms every day and yet not plumb the depths of Earth’s biological diversity—aka God’s creative handiwork—during my lifetime.

Macrauchenia, a South American fossil ungulate. “Вики” by Olllga – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, I was introduced to a new animal that captivated my imagination. I read about this animal on the blog Twighlight Beasts which highlighted a strange-looking ungulate (hooved animal) whose fossilized remains are only found in South America. This ungulate looked like a cross between a camel, a deer, a rhino (three-hooved feet) and an elephant. It’s the nose in the illustrations that obviously catches your attention. Scientists aren’t sure about the shape of the nose, but given the way the nostrils appear to be connected to the skull surface, they believe that the nose had a significant fleshy projection. This particular animal has been classified as a member of an extinct genus of ungulates named Macrauchenia. An interesting bit of trivia about this animal is that the first fossils of this genus were found by Charles Darwin in South America during his voyage on the Beagle.

These animals aren’t considered to be closely related to any living group of ungulates (eg. horses, camels, pigs, cows, deer etc..). In fact, they are just one of many species of an larger group of extinct ungulates all of which lived in South America except a few species that have also been found in Antarctica.

This got me wondering. Just how many ungulates species are there in South America today and how many have lived there in the past? The short answer: Only a handful today but hundreds in the past.

Example of living ungulates

There are 400+ species of ungulates (hooved animals) alive on Earth today but fewer than 30 of them are native to South America. These include single species of alpaca and llama, a few pigs, tapirs, and several deer.

What about extinct ungulates that lived in South America? That is an entirely different story. This funny long-nosed ungulate I said was just one of many extinct species in a single family. A taxonomic “family” of animals is a grouping of many species that have some similar characteristics suggesting common relationships. The canine family (foxes, wolves, dogs) cat family (lions, tigers, cheetahs and house cats) or bear feamily (pandas, sun bears and polar bears) represent the type of diversity that one would find at this category of classification.

In this single family of ungulates in South America there have been 30 described genera (eg. wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs are all members of one genus) each of which may have 1 to a 100 species. So this family can have a lot of species. But then you need to understand that this family of strange ungulates is but one of 25 described families of extinct ungulates in South America. All together there are around 150 described genera of ungulates in these families. The diversity in these families is amazing, running from large rhino-sized animals to small nimble creatures that would have looked like small deer.

A couple of extinct ungulates from South America. Despite similarities with rhinos the larger animals were not closely related to rhinos. Click for link to original by JW Morenol

Remarkably, all of these ungulates have only ever been found preserved in South America, with just a few from Antarctica.

If you consider that we only have only been able to examine a tiny fraction of the fossilized material in South America, it is likely that there are at least twice this many kinds of ungulates that must have lived in the past. In addition, there are a few other genera of ungulates that have been identified as fossil ungulates related to groups of living ungulates such as llamas and alpacas.

So, how many species of ungulates have existed in South America? Even if we use a conservative estimate of an average of only five species per genus, that would suggest there have been at least 750 species of ungulates that have lived in South America at some point in time. This number is probably a very conservative estimate. I suspect that paleontologists would predict the number of species of South American ungulates that has lived in the thousands.

This is remarkable, considering the same continent has fewer than 30 native species of ungulates alive today.

What Happened to the Ungulates of South America?

Why are there so many ungulates in South America’s past and yet so few today? The simplest answer can be found in the geological history of South America.

Reconstruction of continental plates from 50 million years ago. https://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/EarthSC102Notes/102PTEarthHist.htm

Plate tectonic theory explains how the earth’s crust is divided into separate plates that have moved around. This theory tells us that South America spent a long time isolated from all other continents. After it separated from Africa, it was connected to Antarctica up until about 55 million years ago. After it separated from Antarctica, it spent about 50 million years in isolation before volcanic activity produced the Central American land bridge between North and South America just 3 million years ago. This connection of the Americas allowed from something that has been termed the Great American Interchange. This was a migrations of animals from North America into South America and vice versa

Skull of a Sparassodonta from South America. this saber-toothed animal would have filled the role of lions and saber-toothed cats that lived in North America at the same time.

Prior to this interchange, there is no evidence of large mammalian carnivores in South America. There were no bears, cats or canines (like wolves) in South America before three million years ago. Being isolated from the rest of the Earth the mammals there evolved in isolation. Without many other mammalian competitors for resources, and predation by very different carnivores, ungulates and marsupials greatly diversified in South America. These herbivores lived in a very different world with respect to the dangers they encountered. For example, they had to contend with a family a huge flightless birds called the “terror” birds of South America. I’ve written about these in the past (When Flightless Birds Rules the Land: The “Terror” Birds of the New World). Some species of terror birds became so large that they could have become the top predators themselves, though there is still debate in the literature about the behavior of these amazing birds. In addition to the terror birds there were huge crocodiles and a strange group of animals thought to be a sister group to marsupials that included carnivorous members. Some of these animals looked superficially like large saber tooth cats though not related to them.

Reconstructions of two terror birds from South America. These flightless birds only lived in South America. These are birds you would not want to meet without some protection. The lack of predators in South America probably helped to allow these birds to grow to such enormous size. Image from http://palaeos-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/titanes-aves.html

The great american interchange included more than just ungulates. Marsupials and giant sloths came up into North America and elephants, bears, and cats moved down into South America.

After the Americas were connected by a land bridge, sabertooth cats, wolves and bears entered into South America. It is not difficult to imagine how they could have very quickly caused the extinction of thousands of mammal species there, probably including the terror birds and other South American carnivores.

Ironically, almost every ungulate native to South America today seems to have come to South America in this interchange, while the many hundreds of species of ungulates that used to occupy the continent all went extinct. For example, the alpaca and llama, which are related to camels and we commonly associate with South America, originally lived in the central plains of North America and then migrated to South America. Later these animals and their relatives went extinct in North America during the Ice Age.

Why did all of South America’s ungulates go extinct while many of the North American ungulates survived? Part of the reason may be that South American ungulates didn’t need to deal with many predators, whereas the North American ungulates had been adapting to life with many predators for millions of years. They already had the skills to live with lions, cougars and wolves and so they replaced the ungulates of South America that didn’t have the ability to live with these carnivores.

Young Earth Creationists (YECs) Have an Ungulate Problem

How would a YEC respond to this scenario of the history of South American ungulates? How could there have been at least 750 extinct ungulates in South America – more than are alive on the whole earth today! – which can be seen in and inferred from the fossil record? I expect that the first response would be to suggest that these fossils represent the remains of ungulates that were destroyed in the Flood.

But here is where the YEC’s ungulate problem begins. Even if these were ungulates buried by a global flood, why are these hundreds of different kinds of ungulates only found in South America? How could hundreds of members of one large group of ungulates, none of which are alive today, all have gotten caught up in a global flood and been deposited in only one place on Earth?

This also raises a further problem for the young-earth hypothesis. There are many different kinds of ungulates—probably at least 25 if we use the YEC definition of “kinds” being roughly equivalent to “families” —that must have been preserved on the Ark. But if that is the case, then all 25 of these families/kids of ungulates went extinct after the flood without leaving any evidence?

But there is a bigger problem. All of these ungulates are found in what the majority of YECs believe are post-flood deposits. In other words, we can infer from their own literature that these fossils were not formed during a global flood but rather afterward, from ungulates descended from their ancestors, who survived on the Ark Most of these ungulate fossils (of Eocene age) are found in rocks that represent the very top layers of the geological column. Some fossils are also found in cave deposits, which also must be post-flood in their origin. So there really is no evidence of any of these ungulates existing until after a global flood in YEC models.

So were did these post-flood ungulate fossils come from? How and why did they all end up in South America, right after a global flood?

The YEC might respond that representatives of each of these kinds of ungulates, maybe 25 pairs, would have departed from the Ark. Collectively, they would have all have made the trek from the Middle East up to the Bering Strait into North America and then down into South America. Along the way, they left no remains and none decided to stay on any other continent. They got to South America and then, and only then, did they rapidly evolve into hundred of species at rates of change that would make an evolutionist blush. Then by the time of the Ice Age just 4250 years ago according to the YEC hypothesis, they all went extinct. In the YEC timeline these animals all had to exist in a time window of less than 300 years from Noahic Flood to Ice Age and that assumes they migrated to South America nearly instantly.

To explain the existence of the ungulate fossils in South America, the above scenario is what a young-earth creationist must accept.

This scenario requires a series of fantastical ad-hoc explanations that only superficially account for some the general facts. The conventional explanation—the one that I described at the beginning of this article—fits the data very well. For example, the strange observation that some ungulate fossils are also found in the Antarctic Peninsula. Independent data from plate tectonics tells us that these two continents, South America and Antarctica, had a connection in the past and so fossils of very similar ungulate species found on both continents are not that surprising.

Today, there are over 400 species of ungulates on Earth, with billions of living individuals. But here we see that, minimally, there were 750 ungulate species in South America alone and probably thousands of species. In a young-earth creationist’s model, almost all of these species would have had to have been living at one time. This is very difficult to understand from an ecological perspective. How could this many species live side by side, competing for the same resources?

All of the living African ungulates. At some point in the past South America probably had as many species alive at one time.

In an evolutionary model, or even progressive creation (Reasons to Believe model), South America probably only had 25 to 100 species living at any one time, with some going extinct and new species being formed over time. There are around 130 species of Ungulates living in Africa today but even there fossil species outnumber modern species. North America also has far more fossil ungulate species than living species.

The pictures that emerges from the fossil record, all of which is found in just the very top layers of rock and sediment on Earth is one of tremendous past diversity of ungulates. Thousands upon thousands of species of ungulates have walked this Earth but for the past several thousand years there have only been about 400 living species.

As I said before, we can marvel at the diversity we see today but that diversity pales in comparison to that present over past eons. the diversity of life is so great that earth of only 6000 years of history would seem utterly incapable of providing a home for all those organisms and their needs.

This is an edited and updated version of an article originally posted January of 2015


There Are Over One Billion Insects In The World For Every One Person

That&rsquos many insects! Many of them, such as bees, are helpful, and we want to make sure that they continue to thrive by leaving hives alone and growing plenty of flowers for them to pollinate. Moreover, even mosquitoes have a significant role in the food web, as they are an essential source of food for many kinds of birds. Flies are annoying insects but relatively harmless unless they lay eggs in your food, and you end up with a bunch of maggots. Mayflies have the shortest lifespan of any known animal, with less than 24 hours between hatching and death.

Shutterstock

Can you imagine these statistics? For those of you with a fear of insects, this news may be somewhat unsettling. Other insects such as the Black Widow or Brown Recluse spider are harmful to humans. The Black Widow&rsquos bite can be excruciating and cause muscle cramps but is treatable. The Brown Recluse can cause life-threatening injuries such as substantial pain, seizures, nausea, and more if left untreated. Scientists believe there are upwards of ten million different insect species in the world. While not all insects are dangerous to humans or pets, it&rsquos always best to do your research before handling them.

The horned lizard has one of the grossest defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom.


Resources

Books

Bubenik, G. A., and A. B. Bubenik, eds. Horns, Pronghorns, and Antlers: Evolution, Morphology, Physiology, and Social Significance. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990.

Feldhamer, G. A., L. C. Drickamer, S. H. Vessey, and J. F. Merritt. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity and Ecology. Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Geist, V. Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior and Ecology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971.

Gosling, L. M. "The even-toed ungulates: order Artiodactyla— sources, behavioural context, and function of chemical signals." In Social Odors in Mammals, Vol. 2, edited by R. T.E. Brown and D. W. Macdonald, pp 550-618. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

Krebs, J. R., and N. B. Davies. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1993.

Macdonald, D., ed. The Encyclopaedia of Mammals. New York: Facts On File Publications and Oxford: Equinox (Oxford) Ltd., 1984.

Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th edition, Vol. 2. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Pough, F. H., C. M. Janis, and J. B. Heiser. Vertebrate Life, 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.

Van Soest, P. J. Nutritional Ecology of the Ruminant. 2nd Edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Vaughan, T. A. Mammalogy. 3rd edition. New York: Saunders College Publishing, 1986.

Walther, F. R. Communication and Expression in Hoofed Mammals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.

Periodicals

Bleich, V. C., R. T. Bowyer, and J. D. Wehausen. "Sexual segregation in mountain sheep: Resources or predation?" Wildlife Monographs 134 (1997): 1–50.

Fortelius, M., J. Eronen, J. Jernvall, L. Liu, D. Pushkina, J. Rinne, A. Tesakov, I. Vislobokova, Z. Zhang, and L. Zhou. "Fossil mammals resolve regional patterns of Eurasian climate change over 20 million years." Evolutionary Ecology Research 4 (2002): 1005–1016.

Gore, R. "The rise of mammals." National Geographic 203 (2003): 2–37.

Graur, D. and D. G. Higgins. "Molecular evidence for the inclusion of the Cetaceans within the order Artiodactyla." Molecular Biology and Evolution 11 (1994): 357–364.

Janis, C. M. "New ideas in ungulate phylogeny and evolution." Trends in Ecology and Evolution 3 (1988): 291–297.

——. "Tertiary mammal evolution in then context of changing climates, vegetation, and tectonic events." Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 24 (1993): 467–500.

MacFadden, B. J. "Cenozoic mammalian herbivores from the Americas: Reconstructing ancient diets and terrestrial communities." Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 31(2000): 33–59.

Main, M. B., F. W. Weckerly, and V. C. Bleich. "Sexual segregation in ungulates: New directions for research." Journal of Mammalogy 77 (1996): 449–461.

Montgelard, C., F. M. Catzeflis, and E. Douzery. "Phylogenetic relationships of artiodactyls and cetaceans as deduced from the comparison of cytochrome b and 12S rRNA mitochondrial sequences." Molecular Biology and Evolution 14 (1997): 550–559.

Nikaido, M., A. P. Rooney, and N. Okada. "Phylogenetic relationships among cetartiodactyls based on insertions of short and long interpersed elements: Hippopotamuses are the closest extant relatives of whales." Evolution 96 (1999): 10261–10266.

Radinsky, L. B. "The adaptive radiation of the phenacodontid condylarths and the origin of the Perissodactyla." Evolution 20 (1966): 408–417.

——. "The early evolution of the Perissodactyla." Evolution 23 (1968): 308–328.


New insights into the mechanisms into how ungulates got bigger in the Neogene

Bigger ungulate species became more common because of a higher origination and lower extinction rate. The study, published recently in “Proceedings of Royal Society B”, is the first to compare the evolution of two mammalian clades during the Neogene on two continents. The researchers point out that this biogeographic perspective yields complex explanations for apparently shared patterns.

What does the future hold for mammals? In the past, bigger was indeed better as several studies have shown an increasing trend of body size in mammals (including ungulates) until the great extinction events during the ice ages coinciding with a cooling climate. Today it seems populations of larger-bodied species are threatened to a greater degree. Some researchers even consider dwarfing as a possible consequence of the ongoing temperature rise. Insights into the patters of body size evolution might help to predict the changes that lie ahead for mammals.

In order to understand how body size evolves in mammals, Dr. Shan Huang, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, and her colleagues analyzed a fossil data set of large herbivores (ungulates: orders Artiodactyla und Perissodactyla). The fossil remains, which include around 500 species of animals such as giraffes and hippos as well as rhinoceros and chalicotheres, cover the period between 23 to two million years ago. This is the first time the evolutionary patterns of body size in ungulates during this period were analyzed and compared between Europe and North America.

Whereas studies on body size had primarily investigated trends of mean body size increase, Huang highlighted changes in the minimum body size. “Overall, we saw a significant increase in minimum (and maximum) body size during this time. This indicates active evolution, meaning that the animals did not evolve to bigger sizes in the course of time by chance. On the contrary, bigger species had an evolutionary advantage when competing for natural resources. This is what we call species selection“, says Huang.

According to the researchers, species selection is supported by two results. First of all, in the course of time artiodactyl species that had comparatively large bodies were more likely to diversify into new species compared to smaller artiodactyl species. This explains why in sum this order increased in body size on both continents. “It may be due to the fact that being bigger made it easier to adopt a new lifestyle and occupy new niches that appeared at that time – the basis for rapid diversification,” co-author of the study, Dr. Susanne Fritz, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, explains.

Secondly, larger-bodied artiodactyl species in North America were less likely to go extinct than small-bodied species a pattern which also emerged when the researchers compared perissodactyl species (odd-toed ungulates) in North America. The researchers speculate that this might be due to the fact that the North American continent lacked an easy southern pathway, restricting dispersal towards lower latitudes when the climate became colder towards the end of the Neogene. Larger-bodied species might have been more capable of coping with the new conditions and the associated changes in food sources.

“Our study demonstrates that similar macroevolutionary trends across regions might be generated by different processes. Even one single trait – like body size – can associate with origination and extinction rates differently in different regions and orders, perhaps even differently at different levels of taxonomic hierarchy” Huang sums up and adds: “It also highlights that the regional environment within which evolution takes place must be considered when disentangling the underlying mechanisms. To use this knowledge as a basis for future projections, we suggest doing more comparisons between continents in macroevolutionary studies.”


Watch the video: Αλτάι. The Land of the Snow Leopard Ταινία του Ιβάν Οζανόφ Φύση της Ρωσίας. Άγρια Σιβηρία (December 2022).