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Много шуму из ничего?

bhut: Итак, мне удалось приобрести (на время) эту самую книгу Диксона "После человека: зоология будущего". Я о ней слышал много хорошего и с удовольствием взял почитать. Признаюсь по честному: "зоология будущего" меня разочеровала: Диксон явно к задаче серьёзно не относился, и создал серию ляпов. Вот основные из них (на мой взгляд). Кролики. По Диксону, главную нишу травоядных животных займут кролики, или точнее их потомки - "кролоки", Ungulagus spp. По-моему, если какому зайцеобразному и занимать нишу оленя (и не только его), так это зайцу, так как он больше, сильнее, быстрее кролика, и что ещё важнее - его детёныши растут гораздо быстрее крольчат игораздо более независимы от мамки. Кроме кролоков, в книге присуствуют ещё двое зайцеобразных. Первый - это люти, Microlagus mussops, который "соперничает с древними группами мелких грызунов - мышами и полёвками". "Люти напоминают в многом мелких грызунов, особенно в размерах, но их кроличьи корни видны в формах их голов и хвостов". Спрашивается: а зачем кролику или зайцу "усыхать" до размеров лесной мыши или полёвки, особенно если учесть, что по сравнению с последними у зйцеобразных гораздо больше защитных приспособлений? Второе зайцеобразное которое не принадлежит к кролокам - руффль, который живёт в горах, и который тоже произощёл от кролика. Назовите мне тот вид кролика или зайца, который тоже живёт в горах. Как я знаю, зайцеорбразные, которые живут в горах - это пищухи, и от них руффль, со своим "закруглёнными головой и телом, а также дискообразными ушами" вполне мог произойти. Теперь, вернёмя к кролокам. Значит, есть кролоки бегущие - Ungulagus spp., прыгущие - Macrolagus spp., и ещё есть "киркозуб" - Dolabrodon fossor. Значит, кроме бегущих и прыгущих кролоков есть и другие? Но Диксон об этом - ничего не говорит. Но это не в первый раз Диксон "мудрит" с классификацией. Возьмём рогоголовов - потомков антелоп/гигантелоп, которые были оттеснены кролоками в хвойные леса и там приспособились. Вы можите себе представить антелопу (из Африки или Индии!), которая приспособилась жить в хвойном лесу аля Сибирь? Я - только с большим скрипом. Но речь не об этом, а о латыни. Значит, рогоголовы - это Cornudens spp., но вот в горах водится "гроас, Hebecephalus montanus, разновидность небольшого рогоголова, который пасётся на травенистых, южных склонах"... А ведь до этого Диксон чисто, чёрным по белому, писал: есть рогоголовы - Cornudens spp. и есть гигантолопы - Megalodorcas spp. Ни о каких "Hebecephalus" ни шло и речи. Одним словом - сам себе противоречит! Крысы. Если кроликов (ну, зайцеобразных) Диксон сделал родоначальниками новых копытных - оленей, лам, зебр, жирафов - то из крыс он сделал родоначальников хищников - койотов, куниц, лисиц, волков - даже песец подкрался незаметно. И опять мне сомнительно. В голоцене крысы оказываются на верху пищевой пирамиды только на островах, где нет своих хищников, или последние слишком специализированы, чтобы охотится на крыс. Это раз. Во-вторых, дело происходит как-раз не на острове. Диксон поместил своих супер-крыс в среднюю полосу (лиственный лес) и северней, вплоть до северного полюса. В то же время, там же существуют и "настоящие" хищники (Carnivora), например пэмсрет Vulpemustela acer. Как я понимаю латынь, mustela это ласка или какое-нибудь другое животное их куньих. Животные из куньих едят грызунов, в том числе и крыс, и если после исчезновения человека какие-нибудь куньи и уцелели, они вряд ли дали бы крысам пройти на север, к полюсу. Правда, есть возможность, что предками пэмсрета (и шуррока Oromustela altifera) были харзы или россомахи, для которых крысы - совсем уже мелочь пузатая, но, если учитывать, что рогоголовы (включая, наверное, и гроаса) появились лишь через 10 миллионов после исчезновения человека, я отнюдь не уверен, что крупные куньи типа той же россомахи дожили бы до них. Вернёмся к крысам. Они конечно - гении приспособляемости, но почему они должны были двигаться на север в тундру а не на юг, в пустыни? Ан нет, пошли. Появились в мире полярный равен, Vulpemys albulus, тот самый песец, и барделот Smilomys atrox. Вы заметили это "Smilo"? Оно не спроста. "Сабельные зубы самки барделота появились из наружных коронок двух передних зубов - знак его происхождения от хищных крыс". "Самцы, не имея сабель, напоминают белых медведей, которые когда-то населяли эти широты". Так что по тундре у нас бродят саблезубые крысомедведи, которые охотятся на шерстистых гигантелоп (Megalodorcas borealis). Они туда пришли из Африки. Я не вижу причины, почему животное слоновьих пропорций захочит колонизировать тундру. Там холодно, голодно, и мухи-гнус кусает... Кроме барделота на севере обитают питероны Thalassomus piscivorus и дистартеропсы Scinderedens solungulus. Первые занимают нишу тюленей/ушастых тюленей; вторые моржей. Пожалуйста, обясните мне почему грызуны захот

Ответов - 79, стр: 1 2 3 4 All

ропен: Господа,так мне одному писать статью «Браконьеры в Раю,или Захватывающий абсурд Диксона»? Или коллективно будем?

Юный биолог: ропен пишет: «Браконьеры в Раю,или Захватывающий абсурд Диксона»? А это что, а это где, а это когда?

Семён: Юный биолог пишет: А это что, а это где, а это когда? Когда в библиотеке сайта только появилась книга Диксона, была идея написать такую статью с анализом ошибок. Но смысла, по-моему, нет. Во-первых, книга написана очень давно. Во-вторых, в отличие от "Дикого мира будущего", она малоизвестна в широких кругах.


Юный биолог: Семён пишет: Во-первых, книга написана очень давно. Во-вторых, в отличие от "Дикого мира будущего", она малоизвестна в широких кругах. В-третьих, в неоцене при желании можно найти ещё больше ошибок.

bhut2: Ну, не больше (надеюсь), но всё-таки...

Семён: Юный биолог пишет: В-третьих, в неоцене при желании можно найти ещё больше ошибок. Facepalm. Ну вы сравнили. В неоцене разве что мелкие неточности присутствуют (видные в основном специалистам). У Диксона же вообще безудержный полёт фантазии.

Мамонт: Хуже мира без людей.

ропен: Семён пишет: Но смысла, по-моему, нет. Ну не знаю,лично у меня эта мысль появилась,когда я увидел хорран-хвостатых быстроногих стайных четвероногих хищников,потомков человекообразных обезьян.

Медведь_жив!: ропен пишет: хвостатых быстроногих стайных четвероногих хищников,потомков человекообразных обезьян. Кстати, не самые абсолютно-не-реалистичные твари...

valenok: Медведь_жив! пишет: Кстати, не самые абсолютно-не-реалистичные твари... Ога, человекообразные с хвостом. =)

Юный биолог: Да, забавно.

bhut: На минутку оставим зверей в покое, повернёмся к птицам. И нелетающие гагарки (Nataralces maritimus), и Педагорниды (потомки пингвинов) "удерживают свои яйца внутри себя пока они не готовы вылупиться и откладывают свои яйца прямо в воде" где птенцы и вылупляются. Хотел бы я посмотреть на такого птенчика, который сразу из яйца и в воду - Северного Ледовитого океана или прибрежного антарктического. Другая чудо-птица Диксона - скерн (латинское название отсуствует). У него "маслянно-зелёное оперение и большие и длинные ноги, но нет крыльев". "Скерны не могут ходить, но используют свои ноги, чтобы проталкиваться на брюхах". Скерны "откладывают свои яйца в тёплые вулканические пески островов и немедленно их забрасывают. Они могут откладывать время кладки яиц пока температура песка не станет той, которой надо. Когда вулкан даёт знаки, что просыпается, он немедленно становится сценой бурной активности. Птицы заползают на берег, и с помощью их температуро-чуствительных клювов проверяют песок на места, с правильными условиями для инкубации. После того, как они отложат и закопают яйца на глубине десяти-двадцати сантиметров, они возвращаются в море, и никогда больше не видят ни яйца, ни молодь". Знаете, о ком мне это напомнило? О морских черепахах. Такой вот сдвиг по фазе, и я не шучу. Насекомоядные Proboscisuncus spp. - млекопитающий экивалент дятлов. Насекомоядный трутиль Terebradens tubauris - такой же экивалент скворца. Камышёвый ходулочник Harundopes virgatus - экивалент цапли. Насекомоядное пфрит Aquambulus hirsutus - это уже экивалент... клопа-водомерки. Его длина, включая хвост, меньше пяти сантиметров..." "Лапы пфрита покрыты волосками, которые недают ему утонуть". "Рот пфрита вытянулся вперёд в длинную трубку, в конце которой много тонких зубов, способных прорвать наружную кожицу личинок насекомых", ибо кормится пфрит личинками комаров и другой мошкары. Клоп-водомерка, одним словом. Всё смешалось в мире Диксона - птице-звери, зверо-птицы, звери-насекомые... когда дело дошло до летучих мышей, мне стало окончательно плохо. Несмотря на то, что он раньше писал, что "летучие мыши были такими удачливыми в их формах и образе жизни, хотя они и появились свыше ста миллионов лет назад. Кроме развития более сложного эхолота и отсуствия глаз, мало что изменилось". Ан нет, на острове Бэтавии всё извенилось коренным образом. У мноих видов исчез как раз эхолот, а крылья снова стали руками. Ситуация превзошла абсурд. Летучая мышь-"сюрфист" Remala madipella - стала пингвином, "её крылья привратились в плавники, и стали короткими и мускулистыми". "По суше сюрфист передвигается на хвосте и передних лапах. На отдыхе он заворачивает хвост под тело". Но верхом абсурда стал не сюрфист, а ночной охотник Menanbulus perhorridus. Его крылья - передние лапы - стали ногами, а задние лапы - руками. Я не шучу, у Диксона даже картинка его есть!.. На этом я пока умолкаю: чтобы дальше перечислять все ляпы Диксона, у меня пока нету времени.

Мамонт: Исчо там есть млекопитающее-страус.И как выкармливаются птенцы скернов?Песок едят?

Автор: Кто ищет, тот всегда найдёт! Вот форум (буржуйский), где можно найти картинки из творчества Диксона. Ужасайтесь и наслаждайтесь: http://s6.invisionfree.com/FutureWorld/index.php?act=idx Честно говоря, я сам хотел бы подержать ЭТУ книгу в руках...

Семён: Bhut, молодца! Ждём новых ляпов. Автор, какую из трёх книг? По мне, так верх жути - это "Люди после людей". Лавкрафт и Стивен Кинг нервно курят в сторонке. Доктор, это уже маразм или ещё шизофрения? Видимо Дугал МакДиксон - растаман, накурился дури вот и пургу несёт. А на этом форуме ещё тема есть - какой ваш любимый "человек будущего?". Упасть не встать.

Юный биолог: Семён пишет: Лавкрафт и Стивен Кинг нервно курят в сторонке. Особенно от хозяина паразита. Гадость! Натуральная!

Автор: Какую? "Зоологию будущего", естессссснно. До "Человека после человека" я, пока что, не дошёл умственно.

Семён: Кстати, художника, что иллюстрировал первые три книги МакДиксона (типа Маклауд) надо гнать взашей. Его картинки добавляют жути. Адамс (он ведь ДМБ иллюстрировал?) такого ощущения не оставляет. А до "Человека после Человека" я сам не дошёл. И вряд ли дойду. Это ещё больший бред, чем та ссыла, которую я раз выкладывал. Помните "Тварриум"?

Автор: Как не помнить уральского большеХХХХца и процентового зверя... Они всё же пострашнее диксоновских существ выходят.

Автор: Не забудем в потоке критики одно - не будь Диксона и его книги - не было бы и нашего форума, и нас всех на нём.

bhut: Ты совершенно прав, Семён! Его "Человек после человека" - просто коллекция уродцев - жуть берёт! А что до "Зоологии будущего", то глвный приз по нелепости берёт землеройка-парашутист (Pennatacaudus volitarius), чьи детёныши-подростки разлетаются на манер семян одуванчика, а второе место - зверёк спикль (Fistulostium setosum), который питается "исключительно нектаром цветков кактуса". Как он живёт когда кактус не цветёт - я не знаю. Справедливости ради, следует заметить, что у Диксона есть и вполне реалистичьные звери - жаба-дуболистка, шрок, цапля-удильщик, обезьяна-летяга, обезьяна-зидда, сумчатая обезьяна чакабу и другие. В общем, у Диксона избыток воображения, и недостаток рассудка... да и анатомию он не очень сильно знает. Вот так.

Автор: А мне кажется, что "пустынная акула" - неплохой кандидат в призёры. Зверь, живущий в сыпучем песке... Это не сцинк или змея, и как он дышать будет, да ещё лапищами орудовать - не пойму. А "матримониальный тинаму", у которого крохотный самец сидит на огузке огромной самки? Тоже кандидат!

Мамонт: Видимо,наш шотландский коллега очень любит удильщиков,раз решил вывести их наземный аналог!(Я его ни в коем случае не защищаю.)

Nestor_notabilis: книгу не прочел. Просто название "сумчатая обезьяна" - вызывает БОЛЬШИЕ сумнения... - для сумчатых, судя по всему, ниша приматов оказалась недоступна принципиально. Просто этот класс не способен к развитию именно в этом направлении. Максимум, кого они смогли породить в арбореале - это аналоги ленивцев (коала), аналоги примитивных всеядных грызунов (опоссумы) и те, у кого нет аналогов вообще, но не менее странные и неинтеллекутальные создания - древесные кенгуру (которые еще и в начале своей эволюции находятся). Вероятно, просто основополагающие принципы строения мозга сумчатых не дают варианта развития по типу "примат". У сумчатых какой-то базовый дефект есть в плане нейронных связей между полушариями + очень слабо развита кора. У всех, даже у больших кенгуру и хищников.

bhut: Уважаемый Нестор. А вы не слышали о конвергенции - "независимом развитии сходных признаков у разных груп организмов к сходным условиям внешней среды"? Потом, чакабу будет обитать через 50 миллионов в будущем, и может быть тогда сумчатые смогут быть достаточно "умными", чтобы напоминать обезьян. Во всяком случае, чакабу кажется мне более реалистичным чем сумчатый хищник хири-хири, который душит свою добычу хвостом.

Семён: Тинаму, чьи самцы сидят на заднице у самки - это нечто. А козодой со ртом, имитирующим цветок? А коллекция дегенератов "Люди после людей" - это, по моему, единственное подтверждение теории А. Белова. Только интересно - все эти беглецы из Кунсткамеры - они что, живут на Земле будущего? Интересно, как их нормальные животные не вытеснили.

Автор: А летучая мышь, нелетающая и имитирующая своей мордой цветок - это как?

bhut: А вы заметили, что у многих его "новых динозавров" "повышенная лохматость"? Такое могло быть? Мне всегда казалось, что динозавры скорее пернатые, чем волосатые...

Семён: bhut пишет: цитатаА вы заметили, что у многих его "новых динозавров" "повышенная лохматость"? Такое могло быть? Мне всегда казалось, что динозавры скорее пернатые, чем волосатые... Книга писалась давно, вероятно тогда пернатые динозавры найдены ещё не были(Археоптерикс не в счёт), вот он их и обволосил.

Автор: Много было сказано про диксоновских зверей, и неясно, кому отдавать «пальму первенства» по глупости. Её вполне достоин стригер – кошак-брахиатор с ПЯТИПАЛЫМИ задними лапами. У всех современных кошек задние лапы четырёхпалые. Может, и не Диксон виноват, а художник напортачил. Но книгу это всё равно не улучшит.

Nestor_notabilis: да одно то, что это КОШКА-БРАХИАТОР - блин, все кошки мира должны бы перевернуться от ярости за такое оскорбление. По-моему, автор - просто дурак. Да еще и с хвостом.... брахиатор, твою мать.

Автор: Я не уверен в брахиации этой твари на 100%, поскольку не читал описания, а лишь видел рисунок (не Диксона!). Прочтём описание, тогда точно расставим все точки над "i". По-моему, это аналог паукообразной обезьяны: нашлёпка на хвосте снизу говорит о том, что хвост явно хватательный.

Автор: Упс! ("Ой!" (англ.)) Это сообщение я убрал сам, т. к. немного недопонял Кассандру.

bhut: Да нет, брахиация есть - стригер специально приспособился есть обезьян и других приматов (типа клатты). А кхиффа (орангутан-обрзаная обзьяна)специально приспособилась этих стригеров потрошить. ПС: Нестор, я вижу вас тоже пробрало?

Мамонт: В описании написано,что этот кошак обитает в тропиках Азии и Африки.И КАК ОН ЧЕРЕЗ ПУСТЫНИ ПЕРЕБРАЛСЯ?!ъ Обезьяна-потрошитель должна снится в страшных снах.На том же рисунке она выглядит как монстр.Аж стригера жалко.

Автор: А кого бы тут не пробрало? Кстати, кхиффа - это не панцирная ли обезьяна? Слышал я, что Диксон и таких удумал.

Nestor_notabilis: панцирный древолазник? - Идиот... Древесная орангоподобная обезьяна - верховный хищник арбореале, СПЕЦИАЛИЗИРУЮЩАЯСЯ на поедании АКТИВНЫХ хищников ближнего уровня трофической цепи??? - Ребята, автор просто совсем неграмотен.... И это не основе его измышлений создан фильм ВВС??????????? цепкохвостая КОШКА ??? - без комментариев... он когда-нибудь затруднялся анализировать скорость перемещения по веткам цепкохвостых и не цепкохвостых видов? - Стоило. Прояснило бы картинку относительно того, почему среди активных арбореальных хищников нет НИ ЕДИНОГО цепкохвостого вида. И в любом случае это должен быть енот, а не кошка. И не охотник, а плоДояд.

Семён: По-моему, первые три книги Диксон написал, не думая о реальности - просто развлекаясь. А "Дикий мир будущего" - это, наверное, идея Би-Би-Си. Захотелось им новой идеи - типа, что будет в будущем? У самих то фантазии нехватило, вспомнили читанную в детстве книжку с картинками - вот и пригласили Диксона. А ему это - в кайф.

bhut2: В связи с переводом книжного "патриарха" и вдохнавителя нашего сайта, решил и я тряхнуть стариной, и достать из своего архива критику на оную книжку, правда на английском (если нужен перевод - скажите, я и переведу). - The Rabbucks (pg. 38-9) Same old same old what I and Tiina had an argument about: can they and the artiodactyls (mainly hornheads and gigantolopes) co-exist in the same zones and eco-niches? Appar-ently, according to Dixon they can: the Arctic Rabbuck, Ungulagus hirsutus, “is found in the far north, in the region of the tundra and coniferous forest”. Since by now we’ve es-tablished in that same argument that that’s nonsense, this really makes me wonder about Dixon’s logic. And another thing. The Arctic Rabbuck looks more like a llama than a reindeer, whereas logically it is the Mountain Rabbuck, Ungulagus scandens that should have a llama-like look and a long coat (which it doesn’t have) – the mountains can get chilly, you know? - The Predators (pg. 40-1) Again, the same old argument: if the mustelids have survived (the pamthret, the shurrack, etc.), shouldn’t they become the “earth’s principal carnivore group” rather than the rats? They are top the rats in the food chain, you know? One particular predator rat that I wonder about is the rapide, Amphimorphodus longipes, which is built like a cheetah. Why hasn’t it migrated to tropical savannahs? The rabbucks have done it, why not the rats, especially if they are supposedly the rabbucks’ main predators? - Creatures of the Undergrowth (pg. 42-3) “The tusked mole, Scalprodens talpiforme, comes somewhere between the old order of the insectivorous animals and the newer carnivorous ones”. Sorry, Dixon, but “The Tree of Life” on pages 118-9 clearly puts the tusked mole in the Insectivora order. And be-sides, even if the tusked mole does come “somewhere between the old order of the insec-tivorous animals and the newer carnivorous ones”, this still doesn’t answer as to why it needed to evolve the tusks and the paddle-like tail to begin with? Moles have appeared back in Paleocene, and by Eocene/Oligocene they already had their first specialized forms. If tusks or a paddle-like tail were a good thing to have underground, surely some of them would have evolved them by now?.. The oakleaf toad, Grima frondiforme, is one of Dixon’s more realistic animals; however, I have some thing to rant concerning it as well. Firstly, it is not a true toad (genus Bufo of the family Bufonidae), for apparently it lacks the parotid and back glands of this genus, which is really a big loss, because those glands secrete poison, making the toads not very edible (especially if compared to frogs). So, I am guessing that the oakleaf toad is actu-ally a descendant of some other anurid family, like the Leptodactylidae, whose represen-tatives are known to eat other vertebrates. And yes, I know that this family lives in Aus-tralia, South America, and south of North America, but since according to Dixon both Australia and North America are now parts of Northern Continent (pg. 34-5), and since Dixon does not actually tell where the oakleaf toad dwells (temperate woodlands and grasslands are found, amongst other places, at the territory of modern south-west USA), I think that the oakleaf toad can be a leptodactylid. “These two creatures, the oakleaf toad and the predator rat (which one? Janiset – D.K.), have a curious relationship. Within their blood streams lives a fluke that spends the juve-nile stage in the toad and the adult stage in the predator rat. When the fluke approaches adulthood it produces a dye that turns the leaf-like outgrowth on the toad’s back bright emerald green. As this happens in winter the toad becomes highly conspicuous and is quickly eaten. In this way the fluke is transferred to the body of the predator rat, where it becomes sexually mature and breeds. The fluke’s eggs return to the toad through the predator rat’s faeces, which are eaten by the beetles that are preyed by the toad”. This again reinforces my theory that the oakleaf toad could live on the territory of the contem-porary southwest USA, because if it lived in a more northern land, then during the winter months it would be forced to hibernate, and amphibians hibernate by burying themselves into the ground, or the floor of the bodies of water, etc. In such cases it would be point-less for the fluke to dye the toad green, while making the toad’s smell more noticeable would have better results. So, the toad lives somewhere where it is moderately warm all year round, and where the lives do turn brown for some part of year (if the vegetation was green all year round, then the dye would actually help the toad instead). Also, I say again the oakleaf toad lacks the poisonous glands of the Bufonidae, because the predator rat must prey on it with a regu-larity that would lack if the toad was even moderately poisonous. - The Tree Dwellers (pg. 44-5) The chirit’s (Tendesciurus rufus) “peculiar shape is a legacy from an immediate ancestor – the tree-burrowing rodent of the northern coniferous forest”. Those of you who’ll start thinking about the chiselhead (Tenebra vermiforme) (pg. 56-7) are wrong: the chiselhead and the chirit are complete opposites in the term of body plan: where the chirit needs dex-terity (“can reach out at almost any angle”) the chiselhead does not, basically because it doesn’t need to “reach out at almost any angle”, and I am not even sure that it can, due to its massive head. So I think it is safe to presume that the chirit and chiselhead share some common ancestors instead, and their ways have parted not to long after the end of the “Age of Man”. “After making a hole in the bark with its chisel teeth, the tree drummer removes the grub with its bristle-tipped proboscis”. Okay. Can someone tell me the ratio of wear and tear on those tusks? Tree bark is not easy to make a hole through, and how did the tree drum-mers (Proboscisuncuus spp.) evolve a bristly proboscis in place of a nose. Not only this “improvement” destroyed their sense of smell, it must have affected their respiratory sys-tem as well – no nostrils, no alternate “entrance for air” if the mouth is closed. And what about their voice system of the drummers? How the “lost nose” does affect that?.. Per-sonally I think that Dixon would be better of by sticking with the woodpeckers. (Why did they die out anyways?) “In one species, the tree goose or hanging bird, Pendavis bidactylus, these toes have been reduces to two. They are permanently curved and enable the bird to hang upside down without effort. Because of the bird’s size and weight, this attitude is much easier to main-tain over long periods than an upright stance, and it has taken to spending long hours roosting in this position”. Okay. Geese are big birds always associated with water, though their legs are more suited for walking than for swimming. The “true geese” (subfamily Anserinae) have beaks suited to feed on vegetation that grows on ground or in the shal-low waters, neither of which refers to tree leaves. For my part I’ll add that from spring till autumn I have seen plenty of Canada geese over the years – adults, teenagers, young nes-tlings – and not one of them shown any inclination to tree itself – they are big birds, with big wings and big, heavy bodies, and feet that are initially unsuited to grasp tree branches, no? Basically, the geese – “true geese” – are unsuited to life in trees, and why should they? Between their amphibious life style and their powerful wings, they are more than capable of taking on any land carnivore, so they won’t seek trees for shelter, either. Of course, the ancestor of the tree goose could be not a “true goose”, but the African Pygmy Goose, Nettapus auritus, which lives in sub-Saharan Africa where temperate zone is currently present, according to Dixon, but the Pygmy Geese (African, Cotton, and Green) are actually ducks that nest in tree holes, but who still feed in the water. Possibly, the African Pygmy Goose has evolved into the tree duck, Dendrocygna volubaris on pg. 95, but the tree goose? I don’t think so. - Nocturnal Animals (pg. 46-7) I have mentioned the lutie Microlagus mussops before, so I won’t now. Let’s turn to the truteal instead. The truteal “Terebradens tubauris, an insectivore related to the chisel-toothed shrews of the trees. (The tree drummers, and if they are shrews, why did they de-cide on the arboreal lifestyle? Not to mention that shrews are strongly dependant on their sense of smell as well.) The incisors of both the upper and lower jaws of this animal are extended forward to catch worms and burrowing insects in soft earth and leaf litter. The truteal is completely blind and retains no vestiges of eyes. It is, however, equipped with a large number of sensory whiskers and extremely acute hearing. Its ears, which are enor-mous for the size of its body, can be rolled into trumpets by a unique set of muscles lo-cated at their base and then pressed to the ground to listen for sounds of burrowing”. Well, firstly, can you say “woodcock”? The woodcocks, wading birds of the Scolopax genus, behave in a very similar manner to the truteal. Secondly, the loss of sight is nothing new amongst the insectivores – the moles and the mole shrews are all in various degrees of blindness anyways. But the teeth, those incisors that are extended forwards… that’s another story. Maybe it is the fault of the artist (John Butler), but the artistic rendition of the truteal shows-off a beak that would make the duckbill and the echidnas green with envy – this is an actual bird beak and not just some modified incisors. Also, it should be noted that the shrews (family Soricidae) have very similar teeth: i.e. the second and third incisors, the canines and the first pre-molars, so I am not sure that the shrews would evolve either chisels or a beak-like structure out of them. And why should they? They are generalists, feeding on both animal and plant mat-ter for their metabolism requires that they eat a lot. Specializing in earthworms and bur-rowing insects (or tree-burrowing beetles and grubs for that matter) actually decreases the shrews’ chance for survival. - The Wetlands (pg. 48-9) I have discussed the reedstilt and the pfrit before, and as far as Dixon’s creatures go, the angler heron and the long-necked dipper actually quite realistic, so I shall just ask one question: how was it possible for the reedstilt (Harundopes virgatus) to grow till it was “a meter high at the shoulder?” Most insectivores (members of the order Insectivora) are small nocturnal animals with a well developed sense of smell, and the reedstilt, according to “The Tree of Life” on pg. 118-9 has evolved from them. We already have the tree drummers and the truteal with their absent noses (well, the truteal illustrated on pg. 47 has a pair of bird-like nostrils), and now we have the reedstilt, the amazing mammalian heron (see the illustration in the top left corner on pg. 48). What makes this appear even more moronic is that Dixon put the angler heron on the same page. So the wading birds of the Ciconiiformes order have not died out? Then whose niche did the reedstilt take over? I know not.

bhut2: - The Browsing Mammals (pg. 52-3) Just like with the rabbucks, me and Tiina have discussed the flaws of the hornheads (and the gigantelopes) earlier, so I won’t dwell on them. - The Hunters and the Hunted (pg. 54-5) Again, same old same old. The pamthret, Vulpemustela acer, obviously evolved from the mustelids, so why have it evolved into a “predator unique to the coniferous forest”? Have the predator rats kept it there? As I wrote earlier, if the pamthret have evolved from a suf-ficiently large mustelid, such as the wolverine (or the fisher), then it could have avoided competition with the rats… at least for a while… but this still makes as much sense as the rabbuck-hornhead/gigantelope situation “Not all predators are mammals; birds also kill their share of the small animal popula-tion”. Yes, “great birds of prey, which combine the characteristics of the former eagles and owls” were mentioned back on pg. 46, but alas the broadbeak Pseudograga sp., looks nothing like them. Since the same artist – Diz Wallis – is responsible for both illustra-tions, I am guessing that the two avian hunters are completely different birds of prey. That’s fine, currently it has been established that the owls are not very closely related to the diurnal birds of prey either, but Dixon could have shelled out a bit more information as to how they co-exist. The spine-tailed squirrel Humisciurus spinacaudatus is exactly that – a squirrel with spiny (or is it spiky) tail. Well, Dixon may call this an ingenuous defense but I feel that I should point out that the North American porcupines are covered in prickles from head to toe and the fisher still can get itself a meal out of them. Not always, and never the porcu-pines are in the trees, but still. And the squirrel’s spiny tail seems to be an inferior model to the porcupine’s spiky armor, no? The beaver in Dixon’s head had its tail and hind feet “fused together into one large pad-dle”. “Surprisingly the paddle does not impair the creature’s movement on land and is used as a grasping limb, enabling it to climb partway up trees, increasing its potential food supply of food and building materials”. Right. Firstly, the beaver’s tail is scaly and furless. Secondly the beaver’s hind feet are also webbed and rather furless. So where does all the fur in Diz Wallis’ picture on pg. 54 come from? Maybe the artists did depend too much on Dixon’s own working drawings to prepare the plates and illustration in After Man, no? Secondly, why should the beaver evolve a large paddle in place of the feet and tail? Con-sidering, that the beavers second toes on the hind feet have split claws used from groom-ing, this makes the fused hind limb of Dixon’s beaver highly impractical, because with-out grooming the beavers’ fur would lose a big part of its waterproof quality. Finally, why should the beaver need to climb trees? It can topple them, for crying out-loud! Plus, the beaver actually feeds on the bark and branches of the hardwood trees, not their trunks. And I believe that the beavers also eat the trees leaves and buds, and at least during the spring the beavers eat aquatic vegetation as well… So, why should the beavers learn to climb trees? Or, for that matter, how will they move on land with their large paddle? Even modern beavers can be attacked by wolves or bears if met on far away from water, and go away from the water they must when the trees on the shoreline are exhausted (cut-down). The fused hindquarters will be of no use here! - Tree Life (pg. 56-7) The chiselhead, Tenebra vermiforme. Oh yes… This must be one of Dixon’s “master-pieces”. Firstly, how did Dixon imagine the chiselhead’s movements through the “living wood”? Subterranean burrowing mammals generally push the soil aside as they go through it, and occasionally have to push it to the surface, i.e. the molehills. Others, like the marsupial mole that lives in the deserts of modern Australia doesn’t has to worry even about that, because the sandy soil tends to collapse as soon as it leaves that particular area. Com-pared to the soil, the “living wood” is hard! So, how does the chiselhead make tunnels through the trees? Obviously it cannot push the chips out: unlike the chirit it is not very dexterous, its’ forequarters are too short and the head too massive for any sort of dexterous antics. So I am guessing that the chisel-head just… eats it. Well, actually the chiselhead supposedly feeds on bark, but just look at the size of its teeth shown in the lower left corner of pg. 57. These massive incisors, if applied to the bark, will probably reach the cork cambium and even phloem beyond the bark. And be-sides – just the bark? No needles or anything else? Then the chiselhead’s digestive sys-tem and nutrition are seriously different from an average mammal’s, because even the modern beavers, who also feed on bark, also eat leaves, buds, and water plants (see above). Plus, the beavers prefer hardwood trees (deciduous) to the softwood (coniferous trees), while the chiselhead, apparently, feeds pretty much on conifers alone, tar and all. Forget the chimera, the chiselhead is the most outland creature to ever come from the human imagination!.. Unlike the chiselhead, the trevil (Scandemys longicaudata) looks very realistic. But… I am guessing that it is related to mice rather than squirrels, for otherwise it would not need the prehensile tail to reach the cones of pines and firs – I seen grey squirrels do that with ease, and the red squirrels of Eurasia and Canada are as good as the grey. Mice, on the other hand, are not really arboreal creatures, so if one was to go to the trees (maybe be-cause the old squirrels died out?) then a prehensile tail could be convenient to it. And there is already a mouse with a prehensile tail – the harvest mouse, which uses its tail like a monkey when it climbs shrubs or tall grasses. My only concern is that Diz Wallis did not show the trevil’s tail as very prehensile – it looks more like a furry mouse tail, and they are not very prehensile, now are they? Finally the pine chuck (Paraloxus targa) may have descended from some fringillid, or finch, family, most of which lives in Europe – or from the emberizid family, which lives in New World – for Dixon does not tell us in what part of the world the chuck does live. It should be noted, though that the coniferous forests cover the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America that some cardinaline grosbeaks (like the rose-breasted and the black-headed grosbeaks) already have sexual dimorphism albeit only in the coloring of their feathers, but considering that the pine chuck’s sexual dimorphism also avoids food competition between the sexes, maybe the different appearances of the sexes stem from that.

bhut2: - The Migrants (pg. 60-1) The woolly gigantelope (Megalodorcas borealis) was already discussed, and I believe I’ve mentioned the bardelot (Smilomys atrox) as well. However… “The bardelot, unlike other members of the group, exhibits sexual dimorphism in that only the female is equipped with saber teeth and hunts the gigantelopes. The male, having none, resembles more the polar bears that once inhabited these latitudes”. This opens up a rather nasty set of questions about the bardelot’s love life, sorry about the clichй. Sexual dimorphism is not that rare a thing, both among the invertebrates (i.e. the stag beetle’s horns) and the vertebrates (the horns of the actual stags). It usually involves size (spiders), coloring (birds), presence of such specialized weaponry as tusks and horns (deer, etc) and even size (among us). So Dixon didn’t make any breakthrough here. Then again, the fact that the bardelot’s sexes live different life styles isn’t that big a shock either. The extinct Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), a New Zealand bird had that type of sexual dimorphism, and indeed Dixon’s birds have it as well, namely the pine chuck on pg. 56-7. Basically, this type of sexual dimorphism decreases the feeding competition among the sexes, especially if the food resources are limited (like in the tundra or on is-lands). But… this still raises certain questions, including both the bardelots and the woolly gigantelopes. Firstly, is the woolly gigantelope a loner or a social creature? Even the mammoths used to congregate in groups and modern herbivores of the tundra – the reindeer and the musk-ox are clearly social, because it’s easier to survive in a group. While a bardelot female could and would attack a single woolly gigantelope, two or three defending themselves from it as a group could give the bardelot pause. And that leads to the next conundrum. As a rule, females are not as big risk-takers as males, especially in loner species, such as tigers or brown bears. That is because they have to take care of offspring for some part, and that they are actually pregnant for another. I feel it is safe to say that a pregnant bardelot will not be as eager to attack a healthy woolly gigantelope that stands “three me-ters at the shoulder without the hump”, and is armed with a formidable pair of horns as well. Right? To answer this question let’s first see the bardelot’s other options… which are scanty. Anything small – like the meaching on pg. 62-3 would be to agile for the bardelot to catch (and those saber-like teeth do not make chewing easy, to say the least), while in-termediate creatures – like the Arctic Rabbuck (pg. 38-9) would be probably still too fast and dexterous for the solid-looking female bardelot to catch. So, we return to woolly gi-gantelope and its’ horns. And then Dixon’s “genius” hit me: the horns of gigantelopes were not meant to be weapons! Think of it. The horns of the woolly gigantelope and the “true” gigantelope on pg. 82-3 were shown to be “shovels” of sorts, uncovering various sorts of grass-type vegetation from the ground. (And yes, Dixon has shown at least one “browser” gigantelope into the mix, but the presence of the rabbucks (the Arctic rabbuck here), the strank and the watoo in the savannah (pg. 80-1) should’ve made the gigante-lopes a browsing, rather than a grazing family.) And since to do that these keratin protu-berances of the skull must be very solid and heavy, this means that the gigantelopes are naturally inclined to keep their heads close to the ground, convenient for the predators to attack. Personally, I think that’s just dumb. While some antelopes (like the oryx) do use their horns to defend themselves, most prefer to run away instead, a method of defense that the really big gigantelopes seem to lack: they are solid, remotely buffalo-like creatures. The thing is, though, that all the buffalos, irrelevant of their genus, have more or less formi-dable horns to defend themselves – not to feed. Seriously, from where did Dixon get the idea that horns can be made into a food-collecting apparatus? Unlike the tusks of pigs and occasionally elephants, the horns (and antlers) of the artiodactyls are mainly for courting females, or defense, as said above… Back to the bardelot. What bothers me really is that the male and the female lead such different lifestyles, so how do the young male bardelots learn to hunt in the polar bear style? As a rule, neither polar bear nor rat males show much concern towards their off-spring (and male bears sometimes eat bear cubs), so I don’t think that father bardelot will be much help in this department. Plus how does this division of the specie works in terms of habitat? Where do the bardelots make their lairs – inland or among the ice? The pilofile, Phalorus phalorus, is an enigmatic bird. During the summer it feeds like the nightjar family, with “a ring of stiff hair-like feathers surrounding its beak that forms a cone and deflects insects into its mouth”, i.e. during the summer pilofile feeds in flight. That’s fine because during the summer the tundra marshland spawns a whole lot of in-sects. But “in winter it migrates south, shedding its bristles and growing in their place a long, probing bill”. So, one presumes that by spring/early summer a reverse metamor-phose takes place. Now beaks, like horns, are composed of keratin, so can keratin be shed? If yes, then the pilofile is one of the more realistic birds of Dixon’s. - The Meaching and Its’ Enemies (pg. 62-3) Surprisingly, but I think that the meaching (Nixocricetus lemmomorphus) is one of the more realistic animals of Dixon’s bestiary. Their fortress is now more outlandish than the tunnel system of the prairie dogs, just located above ground due to permafrost. The bootie bird (Corvardea niger) also comes across quite realistic. Still, I guess this means that Dixon got rid of both the snow owl and the various sea eagles that also lived in the north during the summer. Although “it even behaves like a heron, wading into shal-low pools and streams to dip for fish”. So why couldn’t it migrate southwards and take over the Ciconiiformes niche instead of the reedstilt (pg. 48-9)? It is certainly more realis-tic than that mammal. But if I don’t have a problem with the bootie bird, the gandimot (Bustivapus septen-treonalis) is another story. It has supposedly descended from the magpies, which are birds of open, partly wooded land, or farmland: i.e. those temperate woodlands and grass-lands mentioned by Dixon earlier. So why would the magpies migrate north? From what I gleaned, they are actually inclined to the warmer climates than other corvids like crows and ravens. The polar ravene Vulpemys albulus is yet another predator rat. Since the last predator rats that the book talks about actually inhabit the Arctic Ocean, this makes me think that the predator rats have moved northwards from their temperate habitat, not south. But that was discussed earlier. Finally, “the lesser ptarmigan, Lagopa minutus, nests exclusively in old meaching bur-rows”. What for? Safety? Rodents aren’t so good guards, and in fact their colonies at-tract predators (just look at the prairie dogs). Unless the ptarmigan is one of these preda-tors, I doubt that the nesting ptarmigans will find much comfort if a polar ravene or an-other predator will decide to have their eggs or nestlings as a consolation prize. - The Polar Ocean (pg. 64-5) I have already talked about the pytheron (Thalassomus piscivorus) and the distarterops (Scinderedens solungulus) in the earlier essay – why would rats want to go into the arctic waters in the first place? Also, what advantage does the distarterops’ asymmetry gives it? The walrus have two tusks to deal with the shellfish, and no claws. Plus, why just the left claw? Wouldn’t two claws be more efficient? And, does the female distarterops have claws since it has no tusks “specifically designed” to dislodge shellfish? Also, “abrasion patterns on the tusks show that they are dragged through the sediment, but are not used to dig up prey” like the distarterops does. “The flightless auks first evolved at the northernmost tip of the Northern continent and, as they became established, spread both east and west, forming a chain of subspecies in a ring around the Polar Ocean. Throughout most of the ring each subspecies is able to breed with the neighboring ones, but where the ends of the chain overlap the differences are so great, that no inbreeding is possible and these populations must be regarded as separate species”. Firstly, I go to ask: and the other marine birds? The Alcid family of auks alone has 11 genera of very different birds, and the Charadriiformes family itself has about 350 spe-cies all over the world. So what has happened to them? Gone extinct? Secondly, why are the differences at the ends of the chain so great? What changes in the habitats have affected the flightless auks so, that the “end results” are so different indeed? The chain of subspecies does not make the picture clear either. Not to mention that in-breeding is not that great in regards to the gene pool… - The Southern Ocean (pg. 66-7) I have talked both about the Pelagornids and the skern earlier, and so I won’t do so now. I’ll just ask again: how do the Pelagornid chicks handle their first entrance into the Ant-arctic waters, how have they adapted to the fully aquatic life period? Even the baby ceta-ceans need help staying afloat and getting around and compared to them the baby pen-guins are much more helpless and vulnerable to cold. And also, all the cetaceans went extinct?! Ouch! Here I thought that humanity has gotten it act together and has started to actually save the whales and the dolphins – as well as other aquatic animals. But no, they died out – the cetaceans, the pinnipeds, the sirenians (dugongs and manatees). Dixon must have a really low opinion of humans, I suppose. - The Mountains (pg. 68-9) I have mentioned all the montane creatures of Dixon’s earlier, so there’s no need to re-visit them. I’ll just add that the parashrew Pennatacauduus volitarius with its dandelion-seed method of transportation must be the most bizarre creature that I’ve ever read about, including the chiselhead.

bhut2: - The Sand Dwellers (pg. 72-3) Okay, I admit. I am not really competent in regard to desert animals, so I am not going to really comment on them. Although, the spitting featherfoot Pennapus saltans does re-semble somewhat the kangaroo rats of North America, but since the North American de-sert animals are discussed on pg. 76-7, neither it nor the kangaroo leaper could have de-scended from them, so we’ll have to settle for the jerboas of Asia and Africa instead. True, the jerboas “prefer” to go to hibernation during the hotter parts of the year, but compared to other creatures of Dixon’s, the featherfoot and its amazing kidneys are actu-ally realistic. As for “the leaping devil, Daemonops rotundus, an insectivore with carnivorous habits”, it could have descended from the elephant shrew (family Macroscelididae, order Mac-roscelidea), which do live in such places as the Namib Desert (and Dixon does have a desert in southern Africa as well), but that would rule out the jerboas as the featherfoot’s ancestors. Anybody else has any theories what animals could have been the ancestors of the featherfoot or the leaping devil? Or the desert sharks Psammonarus spp.? The golden moles (family Chrysochloridae, or-der Afrosoricida) are insectivorous burrowing mammals that live in southern Africa (the Namib desert again!) but the desert sharks have about as much similarities with them as the chiselhead does with the squirrels of today’s. - Large desert animals (pg. 74-5) Okay, here’s the thing. While it may look like a stretch that the camels have died out, one must realize that the dromedary camel has been strongly domesticated (though there is a substantial feral population of them in central Australia, of all places), and if the “conven-tional” farm animals have died-out (pg 38-9), why should the dromedary be spared? And the Bactrian camel has been strongly domesticated as well – same story. “There are about 1000 wild Bactrian Camels in the Gobi Desert and small numbers in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Russia”. So, in Dixon’s vision, the camel’s future does not look good (and considering what is currently goes in Iran he may have an impromptu point here). Next, we come to the desert leaper, Aquator adepsicautus. The leaper is descended from the rodents, possibly one of the jerboas or sand rats”. (By “sand rats” Dixon most likely means those rodents that are more commonly known as gerbils.) I doubt that. The jerboa moves like the kangaroos of Australia and the kangaroo rats of New World – i.e. no fore-limbs involved in locomotion, ever, plus they are nocturnal, and the desert leaper is probably not, while the gerbils are also nocturnal, and are about 8 inches long with 9 inch tail. To go and grow into a 10-foot rodent equivalent of a camel would take a serious toll on the gerbil’s (most desert rodents, as a matter of fact) skeleton system, of that I am sure. It should be noted that the camels/camelids have originated in what is now south-east USA when it was not desert, and have arrived in Old World deserts after a long mi-gration and evolution, while the desert leaper’s rodent ancestors were apparently home-grown. Plus the modern camels’ ancestors had the size advantage from the start. Barring the question of size, there’s also the matter of fur. Why did the desert leaper lose it? It gets very cold in the deserts at night, and without the fur (and most of subcutaneous fat is being stored in the tail) the desert leaper might grow quite cold very soon; and dur-ing the day – won’t the creature get sunburned (or tanned, for that matter?) All of the above facts witness against the desert leaper’s plausibility rather than for it, but because I am not a specialist in desert animals, I may be wrong. The other large desert animals on pg. 74-5 also look bizarre, to say the least. The grobbit (Ungulamys cerviforme) is another rodent though it sort of looks like a rabbit or rather a rabbuck with these ears. Since it has evolved hooves and is about 2 feet in size, I think that it will have problems getting these ears cleaned after sandstorms, though maybe the “rocky desert” it lives in may not have that much sand. But at least it has fur. And a long tail. Most large herbivorous animals do not have long tails, except for the equiids (horses, zebras, and co.) that evolved theirs into fly-swatters. The grobbit’s tail does not look like a flyswatter, so why does it need a long tail?.. The khilla, Carnosuncus pilopodus, has descended from insectivores, and is standing 2 feet tall at the shoulder. Considering that the reedstilt (pg. 48-9) is standing 1 meter tall at the shoulder (a bit over 3 feet), this is nothing fancy. What bothers me that for a descen-dant of insectivores (elephant shrews?) the khilla looks too much like a crazy coyote; in fact, when I showed it on a whim to one of my sister’s charges (she baby-sits the neighbors kids), the boy said: “Doggie!” And yes, I know that the artist Diz Wallis was relying on Dixon’s own original sketches for illustrations, but honestly, she couldn’t have asked for somebody else’s advice? Guess that the year 1981 was different in a lot of things from today. As for the kriskin, “a common predatory bird in desert areas” well, to me it just looks like a generalized bird. Sorry, Dixon and Diz Wallis, but if take out of context, I’d say that it feeds on insects as easily as one could say that it feeds on snakes. The artist bombed. - The North American Deserts (pg. 76-7) When I first saw the fin lizard Velusarus bipod, I actually thought: What the Hell is it? The theoretical critter looked like it actually belonged on Mars in a cheap sci-fi movie than on Earth. So, what do I have against the fin lizard? Plenty. First of all, why did its forelegs go? Even the great theropods, the Tyrannosauroidea superfamily, kept some vestiges of its’ forelimbs. The fin lizard didn’t, and neither did the South American mammal wakka (Anabracchium struthioforme), (pg. 104-5). This raises a curious, albeit a childish ques-tion: what happens if a fin lizard (or a wakka) falls, and can’t get up? The bipedal crea-tures, namely us, use arms and hands to push themselves even into an upright position and quadrupeds can push themselves along on their forelimbs. The fin lizard with only two legs can’t really do either of the things, no? And if somebody catches a fin lizard by a leg, then again, it is in trouble, because with one broken and one functioning limb, a reptile’s chances of survival… are slim. If we are talking about lets, let’s talk about how they’re “built”. The modern lizards are “sprawling” because their legs connect with the hip bones forming right angles. This makes it impossible for the lizards to stand up erect, as the dinosaurs did. The fin lizard, on the other hand, is clearly erect, so this makes me wonder: just from what has it evolved from? Dixon tells us nothing about that. Finally, the fin lizard’s tail. It has fins to raise “into the wind when its body becomes too hot”. Modern desert lizards just go and climb into burrows, under rocks, or just bury themselves in sand to do just that. Guess Dixon just tried to be showy. Anyways, the modern animals that depended on speed (as well as the extinct dinosaurs) have stream-lined tails (like the cheetah) or tails that are practically absent (the gazelles, the prong-horn, etc). The fin lizard’s tail on the other hand has a sail-like fin. Firstly, won’t it slow the fin lizard down? Secondly, won’t it as easily catch heat from the sun as it will dispel it? Compared to the fin lizard, the rootsuckers (Palatops spp.) look actually rather normal. Personally, I think that it looks like an armadillo of the Chlamyphorus genus (fairy arma-dillos), albeit a big a bulky one. Admittedly, it is “armored to protect itself from desicca-tion rather tan to defend it from attack”, but the similarities are there, and only the “lower incisors” in its jaw (armadillos are about as toothy as anteaters) makes it not a member of the Cingulata order. On the other hand the desert spickle (and if there are any others, Dixon didn’t mention them) Fistulostium setosum is clearly not a realistic animal. “It has no teeth and subsists entirely on nectar of cactus flowers which it drinks through its long snout”. Judging from the spickle’s picture on pg. 76, it rather laps the nectar up with its tongue, but that’s just nitpicking. Seriously though, what does the spickle do when the flowering season is over? I doubt that it can go into hibernation, because nectar does not accumulates well into fat, and unless spickle can make honey, it’s probably toast. As for the long-legged quail, Deserta catholica, it is clearly a New World Quail (family Odontophoridae). Those birds eat mainly plant matter, but eat insects and similar crea-tures as well, so I guess if all the birds of prey (and owls) have died out in the New World as well, then a carnivorous quail is passable.

bhut2: - The Grass-Eaters (pg. 80-1) The rabbucks (Ungulagus spp. and the picktooth Dolabrodon fossor) were already dis-cussed by me and Tiina earlier, while the flightless guinea fowl (Pseudostruthio gularis) looks realistic enough. My only wonder, though, is what happened to the “original” os-triches; did humans hunt them down to extinction or what? Personally, I think that Dixon did that with all the ratites, at least the bigger ones – ostrich, rhea, cassowary, and emu. Of course, since Dixon does not offer any evidence in either way, this is just specula-tion… - Giants of the Plains (pg. 82-3) Again, the gigantelopes were discussed before (together with the hornheads and the woolly gigantelope). Still, I must point out that according to Dixon the hornheads (pg. 52-3) have descended from the gigantelopes, as did the woolly gigantelope (pg. 60-1). Since both of them have descended not from the “current” gigantelopes as illustrated on pg. 82-3 that is fine, though it would’ve been nice if Dixon had shown some intermediate forms. Or maybe he did, but the artists and the editors just didn’t show them. Oh well. - The Meat-Eaters (pg. 84-5) Now we’ve come to something interesting. “The horrane, Phobocebus hamungulus, is descended from the tree-dwelling apes of the tropical forests, a fact indicated by the way that the animal walks on the knuckles of its forefeet”. Really? Judging from the illustra-tion by Diz Wallis, the horrane walks on the knuckles because of the massive claws on its forefeet! After all, the anteaters of the New World and some of the bigger armadillos walk in the same way – on the knuckles of their forefeet – but nobody compiles them with the primates. Not yet, anyways. Anyways, knuckles aside, the main reason why the horrane could not be an ape (a homi-noid) is because of its tail. All apes/hominoids are tailless, while the horrane shows-off a very impressive tail, so I’d rather put it into the Cercopithecid family of the Old World Monkeys, whose representatives – I am not talking about the baboons – can be encoun-tered on the plains. However, the primates (I am talking about the simians – monkeys and apes) are omnivorous, rather than strictly carnivorous, as a rule. Even the baboons and their relatives can eat plant food, not just animal. (On the other hand, the superfamily Colobinae is largely herbivorous – but the colobines are some of the most sylvan of monkeys, so they are irrelevant to the horrane.) The horrane, however, is strictly carnivo-rous: “As they pass by, the horrane leaps out on to the back or neck of its quarry, using its sickle-like claws to rip deep wounds around the neck and throat”. “The horranes’ hunting relies heavily on concealment and the element of surprise”, in other words – uses the am-bushing tactic, not unlike the one of the cats. Only… most of the modern predators-ambushers, like the tigers, leopards, and partially lions, use claws to secure their prey, and finish it off with a suffocating bite. Isn’t that more sureproof than bleeding a gigante-lope to death? Then we come to the raboons, Carnopapio spp. Personally, I like the raboons; Dixon and Diz Wallis in the upper left-hand corner of pg. 84 have even shown the evolution from the baboon to the raboon, and it is reasonable-looking. It’s just that, well, I don’t see why the baboons had to evolve into mammalian theropods rather than new apes. After all, all monkeys have hands, rather than paws (though not as advanced as those of the apes). Then we learn that there are at least 3 species of the raboons, as shown by Dixon. There may be more, but only 3 are discussed. “It stands about 2.3 meters high at the hip and lives purely as a scavenger”. As a rule, there are few large mammal scavengers, and those that do scavenge – as hyenas or lions – can also hunt live prey. So why can’t C. gran-dis?.. As for the ghole, Pallidogale nudicollum, it is supposedly “the most efficient scavenger of the African grasslands”. Again, I am not so sure about that. Yes, smaller mammals (such as the raccoons) can also scavenge, but the most efficient (and specialized) scaven-gers are the birds, vultures of the Old and New Worlds. They didn’t die out – Diz Wallis on pg. 85 shows birds eating the dead gigantelope alongside the gholes. So I doubt that the gholes are “all that” – they lack one very important thing to compete with the “neo-vultures” (or whatever those birds are) – they lack wings: they lack speed to compete with them for the remains of gigantelopes and other dead animals. The “almost symbiotic relationship with a specie of termite” that the gholes have also bothers me. “Termites eat cellulose in its various forms as plant fiber”. To do that, Paul Volkov pointed out earlier, they evolved/developed a very specialized digestive system complete with symbiotic protozoa and other microbes. So how can Dixon’s termites feed “on the scraps of carrion”? To do that would change the whole digestive system of the termite. Even if it is possible, I still think it is a stretch.

bhut2: - The Tree-Top Canopy Now the flunkey, Alesimia lapsus, the amazing gliding monkey, looks passable enough. Though it may look impossible, one is ought to remember that the modern gliding ani-mals – flying squirrels, geckos, frogs, colugos, and tree snakes – they all did not pop into gliding-hood overnight. Thus, the flunkey does have a historical precedent to speak on its behalf, in the evolutionary sense, so to speak. Of course monkeys appear no need to glide, due to their amazing tree-leaping abilities, but so do squirrels, and that didn’t stop so of their numbers of developing gliding skills. On the other hand, the ziddah, Araneapithecus manucaudata, seems to a chimerical crea-ture, composed of hylobatid family’s brachiating style and the New World monkeys’ semi-prehensile tail (capuchin monkeys). I think it’s a bit of stretch (Old World monkeys and tree-dwelling apes deal just fine with arboreal lifestyle without a prehensile tail, and to use it “only for hanging from when resting or asleep” makes me wonder if that is pos-sible – I mean, when a body is sleeping, all of its’ muscular structure relaxes or what? Also, I don’t know why the ziddah should be tiny. The capuchin monkeys are 30 to k6 cm while the biggest of the lesser apes, the siamang, can reach 1 m in height and weigh up to 23 kg. But since it was Dixon’s call, this speculation is moot. Finally there’s the “anchorwhip, Flagellanguis viridis – an extremely long and thin tree snake. Its broad, grasping tail, the most muscular part of the body, is used to anchor it to a tree while it lies coiled and camouflaged among the leaves of the tallest crowns to wait for an unwary passing bird. The snake is capable of darting out three meters, equivalent to about four-fifths of its body length, and seizing its prey while still retaining a tight hold on the branch with its tail”. Now, there are two types of snakes – venomous and non-venomous. Which one is the anchorwhip? How does it hunt? To grab the bird is only a part of the process: the snakes’ teeth, by their own, are not the sturdiest material around, so once the bird is grabbed, the anchorwhip must either poison it, or suffocate it. I lean towards the constrictor–type snake, because the venom even of the most venomous snakes does not kick right away, a struggling bird (or any other type of prey – I think it’s reasonable to expect that a hungry anchorwhip won’t pass a convenient monkey or other small animal within its reach), could still break lose, break the snake’s teeth, and flee to die someplace else. Since the anchorwhip is not build for speed, and because it is not easy to find a dead animal in a rainforest, I think that after establishing a hold, the anchorwhip brings its coils into the play, chocking its’ prey to death. What do you think? - Living in the trees (pg. 90-1) Now, the striger, Saevitia feliforme, is my friend’s favorite animal in this book. He once (when he was in the grade 6), wrote a story for his class where the strigers have evolved into sort of anthropoid creatures, similar to early Homo. When I asked him about it, he pointed out that “the strigers have hands and don’t hands make a body smarter?” Now, I think that he has a point. A hand (or a prehensile foot, for that matter), is a rather more complicated organ than a paw, it can manipulate objects. What bothers me is why a feline would evolve it in the first place? To adapt to the life on trees? Felines may be no stranger to the arboreal ecosystem, but unlike the mustelids and certain viverrids they prefer to hunt on the ground as well; plus they already have an important advantage over the monkeys - they can see during the night, while the monkeys can’t (except for the Aotidae family of the New World). Thus, the striger, if did become specialized in preying on monkeys, should have really adapted to a nocturnal way of life so that it would be able to hunt monkeys when they are at their weakest – modern leopards do exactly that, by the way. Speaking of monkeys, the striger got its’ nemesis – the khiffah, Armasenex aedificator, “a monkey whose defense is based on its social organization”. “It is not unknown for a female to taunt a passing striger and allow herself to be pursued back to the citadel, dash-ing to safety while the striger finds its way barred by a powerful male capable of disem-boweling it with a swipe of its powerful claws. This apparently senseless behavior, how-ever, provides the colony with fresh meat, a welcome supplement to their basic vegetar-ian diet of roots and berries. Only young and inexperienced strigers are caught this way”. Firstly, the khiffah is the horrane’s (pg. 84-5) opposite number: the latter is an “ape” with a tail; the former is a “monkey” without it. Even the mandrills have tails, albeit only 7-12 cm. long. The khiffah, however, lacks a tail altogether, at least according to the artist Diz Wallis. It is built like a neckless orangutan, with “horny armor over the face and chest”, which actually makes sense, because the cats tend to go for the throat to kill, “vicious claws on the thumb and forefinger” (the khiffah illustrated on pg. 90 has claws on all of its fingers and toes), and a face like an orc. (Well it does to me.) The female drawn on pg. 91 lacks them. Again, this is nothing outlandish, many males are more impressive and better armed than the females, but… Since the khiffahs are obviously well-equipped to deal with the striger if it decides for a close encounter, that is just more motivation to make the striger nocturnal. Secondly, if the khiffahs have a “basic vegetarian diet of roots and berries” and they want to differen-tiate it, rather than playing with strigers who can turn the tables on them all too easily, wouldn’t it make more sense to eat besides roots and berries (wouldn’t it make more sense to eat leaves and berries instead if you live in a tree?) insects, spiders, geckos, bird nestlings, etc? Certainly they are less dangerous, easier to catch, and more populous than the strigers? Finally, there’s the clatta, Testudicaudatus tardus, “a lemur-like prosimian with a heavily armored tail protected by a series of overlapping horny plates”. “When attacked, the clatta drops down, presenting the predator with an impenetrable heavy-plated tail”. The predator, of course, is the same striger. To begin with, the non-Madagascar prosimians (and Madagascar is still a separate island, ergo no striger there) are represented (at this day and age) by the infraorder Lorisiformes, which consists of 2 families: Lorisidae and Galagidae. The lorisids, or lorids, (lorises, pottos, and angwantibos) are “slim arboreal animals” with diurnal lifestyle and “unlike the closely related galagos, they have slow, deliberate movements and never jump”. Can one of them be an ancestor of the clatta? Theoretically – yes, but in practice… the lorids’ tails “are short or missing completely”, so just how can a piece of fur 3 to 10 cm long evolve into that armored monstrosity? Secondly, the lorids limbs are all prehensile with opposable thumbs, while the clatta’s limbs resemble those of the sloths or anteaters in-stead. Why would the prosimians devolve in this way? And then, of course, I seriously doubt about the effectiveness of the tail. The striger itself has “a pad of hairless skin at the tip of the tail (…) used for gripping branches”. Since “the clatta is found on the lower branches of tropical trees”, i.e. the thicker ones, what exactly prevents the striger from dropping upside down as well to eat a clatta at its lei-sure? - The Forest Floor Leading the charge are the pigs, anteater-like turmi Formicerus paladens and the zarander, Procerosus elephanasus, who resembles either the tapirs or the okapi aka the forest giraffe (Okapia johnstoni). Let’s look at the turmi first. Though it superficially resembles the warthogs (genus Phacochoerus) the latter were never jungle animals; the swine that lived in the jungles belonged to the genuses Hylochoerus (Giant Forest Hog) and Potamochoerus (Bushpig, Red River Hog, etc). Which one of the two was the ancestor of the Neocene pigs is any-one’s guess. Back to the turmi. It has taken over the niche of the anteater (I guess that the scaly anteat-ers and the aardvarks who are occupying this niche right now have died out as well), complete with clawed feet. Unfortunately, the pigs are artiodactylids; their feet have only two toes by now, and converting two of the toes to claws for digging makes me wonder just how fast the turmi are. (The real anteaters are quite fast, but they move on the knuck-les of their forefeet, not toes proper.) And though there are plenty of places to hide in the jungles, there’ll be always a time to run, rather than hide, even there. The zarander’s “long trunk, developed from a snout similar to the trunk of the ancient elephant, enables the zarander to reach leafy branches 4 meters above the ground, where it can snip branches and vines from the trees by the scissor action of its upper and lower tusks”. That is actually quite okay: Paul Volkov in his Neocene bestiary has introduced plenty of pigs-with-trunks, from the relatively gracile tapiroid to the mammoth-like noz-drokh. I guess that the zarander passes. The trovamp, Hirudatherium saltans, is “a parasite, which sucks the blood of larger ani-mals”. “The trovamp is a prodigious jumper and can leap 3 meters from a branch to bury its needle-like jaws into the hide of a passing animal. Its protruding canine teeth act as barbs and prevent it from being dislodged from its host until it is finished feeding”. Most modern-day mammal bloodsuckers – the vampire bats – have not only stealth, but also the nocturnal way of life, for better chances of feeding and survival: sleeping ani-mals are easier to handle than awakened ones. The trovamps, on the other hand, do not seem to have such strategy: on the upper right-hand corner of pg. 92 several trovamps hang off a clearly awakened and alert animal. What’s to stop it from just sitting on them, squashing them flat? Finally, there’s the giant pitta, Gallopitta polygyna. Since I don’t know anything about the pitta bird family, I’ll pass. They seem to be sufficiently realistic – and that’s good enough for me. - Living with Water (pg. 94-5) And now we come to the bodies of the tropics’ fresh water. The first creature we see is the mud gulper, Phocapotamus lutuphagus, a descendant of a water-dwelling rodent, and I am honestly stumped – which one. I have not heard about any African-dwelling water rodents, and I think there is a good reason: the crocodilians (genus Crocodylus) have firmly established themselves in the African waterways, and they provide serious dis-couragement to those brave souls who brave the aforementioned bodies of water: you go in, and that armored mouth with fangs pins you to the bottom till you drown – just swal-lows you whole. And since, according to Dixon’s “Tree of life” on pg. 118-9 the croco-diles and co. have survived like other reptiles (and amphibians), Dixon’s ordinary “ex-tinction of the big creatures” may not cut it. The influence of the crocodiles’ aside, the mud gulper is an odd-looking beast. It may show “adaptations that closely parallel those of the extinct ungulate hippopotamus”, but John Butler and Diz Wallis draw it rather like the dugong or manatees (also extinct, in all probability), without any forelimbs. So, this raises a question: can the mud gulper spend “much of its time on mudbanks, where it breeds and rears its young in noisy colonies at the water’s edge”? The hippos do it easily enough, but they have all four legs, complete with feet, rather than flippers. Conversely, the manatees (and the West African manatee Trichechus senegalensis occurs both in rivers and coastal waters of tropical Africa) can’t move on land (though they are reputed to be able to get from the shallows into the deeper waters, unlike the cetaceans), because of their weight (they “can weigh anywhere from 1000 to 2000 pounds”), so this raises the question: just how big and heavy the mud gulper is? And don’t forget about the crocodiles: only the hippos superior size, strength, and weight keep them safe from the crocodiles (doesn’t stop the great reptiles from taking pot shots at the hippo calves though). So can the mud gulper successfully stand in for the hippopotamus, or is the crocodile the king of the rivers once more? The swimming monkey Natopithecus ranapes has “descended from the swamp monkey, Allenopithecus nigroviridis”, or as it is known nowadays, Allen’s swamp monkey. It is a real life animal, dwelling in the Congo basin of Africa. That alone puts the swamp mon-key, together with the raboons on pg. 82-3 miles ahead of the majority if Dixon’s ani-mals: it has a definite ancestor, rather than some vague rodent or “predator rat”. Further-more, Allen’s swamp monkey seems to fit the bill: it is partially aquatic: swims well, mainly to escape predators, and has slightly webbed fingers – just like the swimming monkey on pg. 94 has. True, the swimming monkey also lacks a tail, but we can probably “blame” it on Dixon: neither does the khiffah from pg. 90-1, and we know that they mon-keys, especially of the subfamily Cercopithecinae, have rather long tails (the tail of the Allen’s swamp monkey is 50 cm. long, while the monkey itself is 45 to 60 cm. long), so even a specialized animal like the swimming monkey should have some remnant tail (or it could have evolved into a rudder-like appendage like those of modern semi-aquatic mammals) left. Then of course we have the question of the diet: the swimming monkey eats fish (and similar animals), while Allen’s swamp monkey eats “fruits and leaves as well as beetles and worms” – non-aquatic food. But evolution has changed more than dieting prefer-ences, so the swimming monkey remains one of Dixon’s better efforts. The swimming anteater Myrmevenarius amphibius is a South American beast, probably should’ve been discussed in the island section (by fifty million years in the future, Dixon’s South America is an island), and unlike the swimming monkey, I simply can’t believe in it. There are three families of anteaters: Cyclopedidae, Myrmecophagidae, and Tamandua. Cyclopedidae family has a single species: the silky anteater, an arboreal mammal of 32 to 52 cm. in length. I doubt that it will leave the relative safety of the trees for an aquatic lifestyle; plus its limbs are too specialized to be converted to flippers as well. Ironically, the giant anteater of the Myrmecophagidae will not become an aquatic animal for the very similar reasons: not only are its forelimbs too specialized to become flippers; it is exclusively a land-dwelling animal, showing rather reluctant interest to go into the water. I think I will bet that the swimming anteater will evolve from one of the lesser anteaters of the Tamandua family: the lesser anteaters show just enough versatility (can survive both on land and on trees) to possibly adapt to an aquatic lifestyle – unless one remem-bers that the waters of the South American jungle rivers are full of such dangers as the caimans, piranhas, sting rays and the candiru fish. And as for the aquatic ants I find that hard to believe as well: they have appeared approximately 92 million years ago, and if by now they haven’t evolved into an aquatic species, I don’t think that another 50 million years will. Now we come to the birds. The toothed kingfisher, Halcyonova aquatica, too seems normally: it is an ordinary kingfisher, just somewhat better adapted to life in the water. As for the tree duck Dendrocygna volubaris, it too could have evolved from the African pygmy goose, Nettapus auritus, as I have mentioned when I discussed the tree goose (pg. 44-5). But its’ possible ancestor is on the Red List of Threatened Species, so the question of whether or not a pygmy goose-descended tree duck can appear is hanging. - Australian Forests (pg. 96-7) Now we come to Australia, which according to Dixon, some time between 25 and 50 mil-lion years in the future will join the rest of the continents (except for South America) into one big solid landmass. “The mountains of the Far East – the most extensive and the highest chain in the world, greater even than the Himalayas at their zenith 50 million years ago” “have kept this cross-traffic (between the marsupial and placental mammals – D.K.) to a minimum and the sub-continent still has a predominantly marsupial fauna”. Well, to start with, by now Australia has placental mammals of its own – foxes, cats, din-gos, rabbits, camels, bats, and also seals (but the latter are extinct in all probability). Thus I think that 50 million into the future Australia, a subcontinent or not, will have some “native” placental mammals as well. What’s more, due to their superior anatomies, the placental animals have an edge over the marsupials, and unless some sort of epidemic devastates most of the current Australian placentals, the Australian marsupials will be in trouble by the time Neocene comes. And even if most of the current Australian placentals do die out, the Neocene placentals will be there to pick-up the “slack” so to say, moun-tains or not. Let’s examine the marsupials now. The first one is the chuckaboo, Thylapithecus rufus – “essentially a marsupial monkey”. That’s realistic enough: some smaller and more agile possum could evolve a superficial appearance to the monkey; considering, however, the more primitive condition of the marsupial brains, it’s unlikely that the chuckaboo will evolve into a marsupial ape, let alone a “human”. “A less energetic tree-dweller, the slobber, Reteostium cortepellium, can be thought of as a kind of a marsupial sloth that spends nearly all of its life hanging upside down from trees and creepers. It is totally blind and subsides entirely on insects that it catches in the flowers of its home creeper by entangling them in long strands of mucus dangled from its mouth. Its large downturned ears and sensory whiskers alert it to an insect’s arrival and tell it when to drop the mucus, which it aims at the flower’s scent”. As far as I can see, the slobber suffers from the same ailment as the spickle on pg. 76-7: extreme specialization. True, it does not eat the nectar or pollen (in fact, after I looked at the teeth of the slobber on pg. 96 I cannot help but think that the slobber wouldn’t mind at taking a bite at something bigger than a bug – it looks downright mean), but it has ba-sically the same problems as the spickle. One is that the flowers bloom only part of the year; however, since this is a tropical rainforest, it’s much more possible for the slobber to find a “working” flower, then for the spickle to find one in the desert. And now we come to the question of diet. Specializing on insects is well and good, but the insects are small. A slobber will need to eat a lot of insects daily to stay alive. So how big is it? And finally, how does it mate? Being a blind homebody, the slobber probably does not navigate over big distances very well, so if the slobber population at given jungle area is not very dense; a slobber will probably have a problem finding mates. And it is probably not very fast either, or very energetic, so thus it cannot afford to just wander around, looking for a mate. So how does it reproduce? I can’t figure it out, for once. At last there the hiri-hiri Carnophilius ophicaudatus, supposedly descended from the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii. Unfortunately for Dixon, Diz Wallis drawn the hiri-hiri in such a manner that it looks like it descended from a quoll (genus Dasyrus) in-stead, albeit with sloth-like forelimbs… and why was it drawn in a manner that looks like it is straddling the tree? And strangling its prey with its tail? Come on? What if the strug-gling prey pulls the hiri-hiri from its perch instead, or just tears the tail?! Neither scenario looks very optimistic for the hiri-hiri, and in fact the whole tail-strangling idea reminded me of a 19th-century hunting anecdote, which says that an owl will catch a hare with one leg, attach the other to a tree, wait till the hare exhausts itself, and then the owl eats it. The owls in that anecdote got occasionally torn into two by the struggling hare, so why won’t the hiri-hiri fair differently? - The Australian Forest Undergrowth (pg. 98-9) We meet first “the omnivorous posset, Thylasus virgatus”. I think it is safe to say that the posset evolved from a bandicoot (order Paramelemorphia) or a similar land-dwelling marsupial, rather than the tree-dwelling possums. Unfortunately for the posset, the artist Philip Hood gave it the coloring of the marsupial anteater, aka the numbat (Myrmaeco-bius fasciatus), and that’s just wrong, because the numbats have long tongues but small teeth – not proto-tusk material. The possets’ coloring aside, it is a rather realistic-sounding beast. As for the giantala, Silfrangerus giganteus, it is slightly more complicated, the artist’s visualization of it aside (I swear, Philip Hood drew it with a human-like face). Since the giantala is a big animal, I’d guess that it is not a descended of the subgenuses Osphranter and Macropus. Those big creatures were creatures of open land, and so probably did not fair well when most of the Australia’s landmass got converted to a jungle, except for the northwest arch. There, probably the descendants of Osphranter and Macropus dwell. As for the giantala, it is probably the descendant of some wallaby instead, which, while adapting to a sylvan life-style, took over the niche of the biggest sylvan herbivore (the kangaroos and the walla-bies are the biggest marsupial herbivores anyways). On the other hand, the fatsnake Pingophis viperaforme just was not drawn realistically. An elapid that supposedly looks like a viperid (family Viperidae) it does not look like a viper at all; it looks more like a half-slug/half-snake hybrid, thanks to Diz Wallis. “The fatsnake’s neck is very long and slender and allows its head almost to forage inde-pendently from its body. Its main method of catching prey is to deal it a poisonous bite from where it lies hidden. Only later, when its venom has finally killed it and begun its digestive function, does the fatsnake finally catch up and eat it.” So despite being an ela-pid, the fatsnake does not have a neurotoxin, but a proteolytic type of venom instead. Since I don’t know which Australian elapids do not have neurotoxin in their teeth, I can-not continue discussing this development, but point out that this actually makes sense. The fatsnake probably cannot move very fast, so unless its venom will begin to show that there’s something wrong with that dead animal, some posset or another omnivore will be able to eat it before the fatsnake finally arrives at the scene. Same for the hawkbower, Dimorphoptilornis iniquitus. Though its behavior does seem bizarre, the modern red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) behaves in a similar manner, making a larder of live prey, even though it is looks like an “herbivorous” songbird. The hawkbower, with its fly-attracting scheme, looks rather tame by comparison with the red-backed shrike’s larder and carnivorous habits. “Another curious bird is the termite burrower, Neopardalotus subterrestris. This mole-like bird lives entirely underground in termite nests, where it digs nearby chambers with its huge feet and feeds on termites with its long and sticky tongue”. Now this is outlandish. Birds may nest and raise chicks in burrows underground (like the kingfishers and certain swallows) but permanently live there? I just can’t believe it. Be-sides, how do the termites tolerate the burrowers anyways? Their social system is just as efficient in dealing with the intruders as the one of the ants, so this means that the termite burrower will be able to exist probably only in the human imagination.

bhut2: - South American Forests (pg. 102-3) Let me start of by telling that I do not believe in “the tapimus, Tapimus maximus, a long-tusked rodent that feeds in open areas of the forest”, for one single reason: rodents can’t develop tusks. They have no canine teeth; the molars are too far deeply in the mouth, and unlike the lagomorphs (rabbits, hares, and pikas) they only have one pair of incisors in each jaw. Thus I can accept the picktooth rabbuck (pg. 81) because as a lagomorph it had a pair of incisors “to spare” to develop into tusks, but a rodent such as the tapimus doesn’t. Besides, why does a rodent need tusks anyways? Apparently for shock value only. The tapimus is hunted by “the gurrath, Oncherpestes fodrhami, a giant hunting mon-goose. Its ancestor, Herpestes, was introduced by man to then offshore islands at the north of the continent, where it became a pest and overran them. When the islands be-came fused to the mainland the mongoose spread southwards and developed into its pre-sent jaguar-like form” i.e. the gurrath. Okay, I am set at a loss since I don’t know which mongoose of the genus Herpestes was introduced to West Indies, although judging from the map on pg. 34-5 the former islands in the Caribbean Sea have fused into one single island rather than to the South American mainland. Anyways, back to the mongoose. Why did it take over South America (if that’s what happened)? Why not some other predator – even if the puma and the jaguar died-out from “Dixonitis” there are still the ocelot and the jaguarondi, there’s the coati and kinka-jou, there are a number of birds of prey (including the rather infamous harpy eagle), there’s the maned wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus, even the caimans and the anaconda for the sake of the argument! If we’re talking about the carnivores, let’s not forget “the nightglider, Hastatus volans, (…) derived from tree-dwelling mustelid stock”. It might have evolved from the tayra (Eira barbara) an omnivorous animal that eats “mainly fruit but also small animals and birds” and is an expert climber that can “leap from treetop to treetop when pursued”, or from one of the species of the grison (genus Galictis), but the latter sound more like ground-dwelling than arboreal animals. Now, onto the nightglider proper. Quite frankly, I am guessing that the nightglider’s im-paling attack is Dixon’s own idea, because I can’t see any normal vertebrate developing that sort of an attack. And what about the fact that “each (nightglider specie – D.K.) is camouflaged against a particular species of forest tree”. That’s just silly. Yes, there are “several different species of nightglider”, but currently there are different species of mar-tens and weasels, and they don’t differentiate by camouflage, but by hunting different prey in different ecosystems. Thus, Dixon’s nightgliders could avoid competition by go-ing after different prey – one species will hunt near ground, another among the tree branches, etc. As for the matriarch tinamou, Gynomorpha parasitica, with its’ “angler-fish” lifestyle, I think it’s a stretch. But I am not sure that it is unrealistic (especially for Dixon). - South American Grasslands (pg 104-5) I have already expressed my profound disbelief about the existence of wakka (Anabrac-chium struthioforme) back when I was talking about the fin lizard (pg. 76-7). Basically, just relook my arguments about it (the lack of practicality in a just two-legged animal). And as for the strick (Cursomys longipes)… The rodents of South America are represented by the Caviomorpha parvorder. The ro-dents that compose it are either solidly built burrowers (superfamilies Octodontoidea and Chinchilloidea), are porcupines (superfamily Erethizontoidea) or are just heavily built and quite “formed” (superfamily Cavioidea). The maras and the capybaras in particular belong to the latter group. Now personally I think that the South American rodents have a very good chance of tak-ing over the ungulate niche in the South America; in fact, they have already begun to do so. (After all, what are the ungulates in South America? The tapirs? The llama and its kin? The former are too few in number and the latter are domesticated, so Dixon probably just killed them all, justified or not.) Only, unless we’re talking about the mara (genus Dolichotis), I don’t see any of the Caviomorphs evolve into a gracile creature like the strick; personally, I see them as more or less solid creatures (like the tapimus but without the tusks). Finally we come to the flower-faced potoo, Gryseonycta rostriflora. Now the potoos (ge-nus Nyctibius) are related to such birds as the nightjars, but “lack the bristles around the mouth found in true nightjars. They hunt from a perch like a shrike or flycatcher”, and actually live in the rainforest, not on the plains. So what forced the ancestors of the flower-faced potoo to abandon the jungles for the plains? Truly, there may appear little difference between the flower-faced potoos actions and those of his ancestors, but keep this in mind: the flower-faced potoo must migrate constantly, or it will fall behind the flowers and the rainy season and starve. This is the spickle all over again. - The Island of Lemuria (pg. 106-7) I have only one question: where are the carnivores?! If Lemuria has split before the rab-bucks arrived and forced most of the original ungulates to die out, it must have also taken with it those predators who fed on those ungulates – the descendants of the original car-nivores, the ones that died out on the mainland and got replaced by the horrane and the raboons (pg. 84-5)? Apparently Dixon didn’t think this through or something, so I opt not to comment about Lemuria anymore (though why is called Lemuria? Dixon didn’t show us any lemurs living there at all.). - The Islands of Batavia (pg. 108-9) The islands of Batavia were discussed between Tiina and me earlier, so I won’t dwell on them. Basically though, bats cannot beat birds, especially if the islands are in the middle of the ocean, and why did Diz Wallis painted a rabbuck in lower half of pg. 108? As Ti-ina pointed-out, Batavia is located very far away from any landmasses so no rabbucks. That’s a fact. - The Islands of Pacaus (pg. 110-11) I think it is safe to say that the pacauan whistlers (Insulornis spp.) were modeled after the Galapagos finches. Since the latter finches are one of the “holy pillars” of evolution, I won’t mess with them. As for the terratail (Ophicaudatus insulatus) and its bird snake imitation I actually agree with it. The modern-day wryneck birds (genus Jynx) do a very similar thing especially if startled in their nesting site or at least the Eurasian wryneck, Jynx torquilla, does. And let’s not forget that the caterpillars of some hawk-moths also have a threatening pose that resembles a snake’s – thus terratail’s “sound and show combo” is actually rather realistic, and that’s a wrap. Dixon’s bestiary is finished, and so’s my review of it. Questions? Ratings?

Автор: А, это та, что на "Философике-Диксонии" у Тима? Знаешь, я сам по диагонали её читал, но всё убеждался с каждой страницей, что это какое-то безумие. Я, например, не могу себе представить, как висячая птица гнездо вьёт и яйца насиживает. А ещё мне неясно, почему потомки воробьиных птиц, гигантская питта и ястребиный шалашник с одной стороны, и разного рода воробьиные типа чёрного франта, гандимота (врановые - они ведь тоже воробьиные?) с другой стороны, оказались в разных группах птиц, разделившихся аж в мелу. И это при том, что воробьиные - молодой отряд, известный с миоцена. А шипобрюх, в тексте названный потомком куньих, на родословном древе отнесён к насекомоядным. Плюс хищные приматы, потомки человекообразных (в тексте сказано "apes") и бабуинов (два заведомо разных семейства) на роддословном древе выделены в одну монофилетическую группу. Вообще, я хотел, грешным делом, написать анализ "Браконьеры в раю" про эту книгу . Но, если так, давайте писать вместе. С обязательным переводом на аглицкий, чтобы жизнь мёдом не казалась. Я пока не вчитывался, какие аргументы есть у вас. Но полазайте по эволюционному древу - найдёте ещё чуток интересного. Переводя эту книжищу, я часто вспоминал песенку Винни-Пуха: Мишка очень любит мёд... Бух! Почему, кто поймёт? Бух! В само деле, почему Бух! Мёд так нравится ему? Бух! Вот так, я думаю, с Высокого-Превысокого Дуба, на котором живут явно неправильные пчёлы с неправильным мёдом, слетел Диксон. Кстати, обратили внимание, как отличается его карта мира сто миллионов лет тому вперёд (глава "Будущее") от показанной в кино "Дикий мир будущего"? Там и Антарктида уже в тропиках (в книге - ещё на полюсе), и Австралия в Камчатку врезалась (в книге - в Юго-Восточную Азию, и куда как раньше). Прикольно... Интересно, он сам-то помнит о своих прогнозах 1981 года?

bhut2: С большим удовольствием согласен помочь вам написать "Браконьеров"... или хотя бы перевести. (Я тут один рассказ перевёл с испанского на английский, и нечего, не очень опозорился). А что до "После человека" и "Дикий Мир Будущего", то ничего общего у них нет, похоже Диксон просто написал "ПЧ" и забыл о ней... Но самая главная фишка - это его работа по антропологии, "Человек после человека". Такой безумной фантастики я никогда ещё невстречал! А вы как считаете?

Автор: Я её не читал, н очень хотел бы увидеть в Библиотеке и перевести. Только рисунки видел. Рядом с ними его звери - как муха рядом со слоном. Один только человек-муравьед, да ещё покрытый белым мехом тундровый житель (быв. чукча?) чего стоит! А у вас она есть? Если что, я в ДеЖаВю формате сканы охотно получил бы, как это было с "После человека..."

bhut2: Увы, увы... я её только в библиотеке видел... да и сканирующей аппаратуры у меня нет. А среди людей меня больше всего корёжит от человеко-ламантина с жабрами, который так и не эволюционировал себе обратно лёгкие.

Семён: А почему "Браконьеры в раю"? В смысле, почему выбрано именно такое название ? Кстати, хотел бы предложить и свою помощь в написании анализа. Поглумиться над Диксоном помочь в таком деле я всегда готов.

Автор: Просто надо сперва посмотреть, что было в критических заметках Bhut'a, и потом добавить свои. Эх, жаль, Nestor Notabilis что-то пропал... Он бы, чувствую, добавил своё веское слово. А где Nem, я вообще сказать не могу, а так много хотел бы у него уточнить...

bhut2: Может, привлечь ещё и людей из "философики"? Тиина вот очень сердилась, что дуболистка у Диксона нарисована анатомически неправильно - нет слухового отверствия...

Семён: bhut2 Картинки в "После человека" - это отдельная песТня ...

bhut2: В смысле? Мне картинки-то даже понравились (хотя к отдельным моментам придраться можно). А тебе нет?

Автор: Меня приколол пятый палец на задней ноге стригера, представителя кошачьих, у которых признак семейства - четыре пальца на задней лапе. Так что тут есть повод для веселья - но это уже к художникам.

Великий маг: Я английский плохо знаю, как зашёл на тот форум и офигел. Подскажите где картинки из Диксона на этом форуме. А то посмотреть очень хоца.

Автор: В "Библиотеке" сайта можно найти полный перевод книги на русский: http://www.sivatherium.h12.ru/library/Dixon/main_ru.htm Там и есть вся книга с картинками. Перевод сам делал.

Великий маг: Страшные вещи Диксон придумал! Особено меня поразили Вортекс(пингвин-кит) и все виды гигантолоп. А от щелеспинной антилопы просто дрожь берёт! Эх, а жаль - чуточку правдоподобных живутных и будет прикольно! Илюстрации просто класс! Эхх....

Семён: Всем поклонникам книги Диксона про человека после человека: сходите по этой ссылке. Я, кажется, понял, откуда он черпал вдохновение. Электронный вариант обещают давать тут: http://lib.aldebaran.ru/author/styepldon_olaf/styepldon_olaf_poslednie_i_pervye_lyudi_istoriya_blizlezhashego_i_dalekogo_budushego/

mutant: Насчет "дикого мира будущего" (рифового плавунца) вы, Павел Иванович, ИМХО, таки перегнули палку с критикой: аммиачный поплавок при всех его недостатках позволяет объяснить отсутствие у этого моллюска средств активной защиты: мало какой хищник захочет есть добычу,содержащую много NH4Сl. Да, в этом случае плавунцу придется стать медленным пловцом, но зато он почти несъедобен. А в случае с жировым "поплавком" возникает проблема: становишься не просто съедобным, а еще и калорийным (если только не накапливать в жировой ткани какие-нибудь токсины), а вариант с активной самозащитой либо бегством является для голожаберного моллюска проблемным - преадаптаций мало.

Автор: Ну я-то исходил из образа уже готового существа, придуманного Диксоном - активно плавающего хищника. И именно такой вариант несовместим с аммиачным поплавком. Если бы в кино было медлительное существо - другой вопрос.

bhut2: Дополнение к "Много шума из ничего", на этот раз о "Диком Будущем". Ваши мнения, господа?

Амплион: Сегодня, кстати, обнаружил, что по "дикому миру будущего" есть одноименный мультфильм из 6-ти серий: http://www.1c-interes.ru/catalog/2061/367230/ (есть на торрентс ру). Странно, правда, что канадский. Существа там вроде те же, что и в фильме. Только вот не вполне ясно, зачем надо было "мультиплицировать" эту вещь?

Юный биолог: Амплион пишет: Сегодня, кстати, обнаружил, что по "дикому миру будущего" есть одноименный мультфильм из 6-ти серий Я здесь как раз благодаря этому мультику.

Автор: Видел я такой мультфильм - у нас его в гипермаркете продавали. Но не смотрел. Снимали его, наверное, чтобы идею протолкнуть в незрелые умы. Но, если сам фильм троечный, то я даже не представляю, каков мульт вышел.

bhut2: Мультфильм как мультфильм, в теории должен просвещать детские умы по поводу науки, на практике его в той же Канаде показывают только на специальных каналах... типичное порождение западной анимационной мысли, короче.

Медведь_жив!: Автор пишет: Снимали его, наверное, чтобы идею протолкнуть в незрелые умы. Я от фильма-то в шоке был(Где медведи?), а что там в мультике... Дрожь пробирает Собственно, мне повезло, скорее всего. Повезло из-за большой любви к медведям , которых в фильме не было. Это оставило ТАКУЮ рану в душе... такую, что когда прочитал ваш анализ "ДМБ" .. Автор, я испытывал щенячий восторг... После созерцания анализа bhut2 ... Трудно описать мой восторг. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Может, напишу свою критическую статью...

Мех: А могут ли вообще паразиты стать разумными? У них же, вроде, деградация по всем параметрам идёт?

bhut2: Значит, не станут (разве что у Немо Рамжета стали, но это совсем уж другая история).

Юный биолог: bhut2 пишет: не станут Полностью согласен.

Мех: Так-так-так, што за мультик? *_*

Юный биолог: Короче , его до кучи прилепили к одному диску , ну , я и посмотрел. Можно было и получше нарисовать.

Parazit2016: Мамонт, когда ты успел вступить в Гильдию Некромантов?

Мамонт: Сегодня.Посмотрел,кто что делает на форуме.

Мех: Parazit2016 пишет: Мамонт, когда ты усп4л вступить в Гильдию Некромантов? Гхосподи, да разве ж мог мамонт появиться в XXI веке без участия некромантов? %) Мамонт пишет: Посмотрел,кто что делает на форуме. Велика вероятность, что это боты просматривали страничку для интернетного архива.

Мамонт: Мне что,нельзя смотреть,кто что делает на форуме? И довольно много участников форума не могли появится без участия некромантов

Мамонт: Покритикую Диксона ещё. Описание вортрекса(читал ещё в 2015 году)узнал,что его длина - 12 метров(сейчас,правда,таких сведений там нет.)Неужели существует только один вид вортрексов,да и такой маленький?И нет крупных рыб и кальмаров? А на островах Батавии(картинка может быть огромной) http://www.sivatherium.narod.ru/library/Dixon/ch_09_ru.htm оказывается,обитают кролопы!Кто-нибудь объяснит мне,как они туда попали?!

Мамонт: Улыбнуло:) Вы знали,что Диксон сам не определился с обликом равена?

Мех: Где не определился?..



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