Thursday, May 13, 2010

Continental Drift and "The Future is Wild"

"The Future is Wild" is a great series. It starts off 50 million years in the future, when it speculates that mammals are still dominant. But the mammals are different, of course: arctic capybaras wander the tundra, hunted by saber-toothed badgers. My favorite of these critters is the spinx, a burrowing chicken with the lifestyle and social behavior of today's naked mole rat.

The future of 100 million years gets progressively stranger. The continents has shifted significantly. North America has drifted north while South America has rotated west; Australia has shot across the Pacific Ocean to begin colliding into Alaska; and Antarctica has moved north into the middle of Pacific, where Hawaii is today. Much current landmass is flooded.

This is the world in which the cephalapods take their first steps—or slitherings onto land, in a massive tropical swamp. The first terrestrial cephalapods highlighted are the swampus: here are some of their young.

By 200 million years in the future, the continents have drifted to form a supercontinent.

The cephalapods have developed to dominate the land, with enormous herbivores such as the five-meter, eight-ton megasquid.

My favorite creature of them all is the squibbon, an agile cephalapod swinging from branch to branch among the treetops.

Some of these speculations might be a little dubious: wouldn't a 120-ton tortoise have problems with heat regulation? But it's a really fun project and an entertaining series.

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