Posts Tagged ‘megafauna’

In the Hall of Black Trees, a number of unusual animals are mentioned, animals that seem fanciful in the extreme.

In reality these animals actually once lived, forming part of what is now the extinct Australian Megafauna.

These were a fascinating collection of animals, much larger than current species as can be guessed by the name. They went extinct some 40,000+ years ago, roughly at the time man first arrived in Australia. Whether that had any effect on the extinction is a matter of much debate still.

Only a few of the species get a guernsey in this first story – others will be seen in later stories of Braega and Tudhala.

The Thunder Birds that chase Tudhala are, or were, a species called Dromornis stirtoni – Stirton’s Thunder Bird. They were a three metre, 500 kilogram flightless bird that was probably carnivorous. For the sake of a good story, I am saying they are meat eaters. A smaller species, the Bullockornis, is also know by the colourful moniker the Demon Duck of Doom.

Alia is of the species Thylacoleo carnifex – the Marsupial Lion. They were the largest meat eating mammals in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. The size of a leopard, they nevertheless possessed the strongest bite of any known mammal, living or extinct. A 100 kg Marsupial Lion would have had a bite the same strength as a 250 kg African Lion. Her colouration is of course made up, but taken from a picture of one I saw when writing the story.

Alia the Marsupial Lion

Marsupial Lion

The Diprotodon I have mentioned before, but I can’t go without mentioning it again. Imagine a wombat. Now imagine it scaled up to three metres long, two metres tall and weighing in at almost 3000 kilos. Basically a wombat the size of a rhinoceros.

Diprotodon

Diprotodon

The snakes and lizards also existed, including a giant carnivorous goanna that might have reached seven metres and 2000 kilos, the Bluff Downs Giant Python that grew up to ten metres long, and the quinkana fortirostrum, a crocodile which grew from five, to possibly seven metres in length.

All in all, a collection of rather large and defiantly dangerous animals. Perfect, in fact, for the Primal Tales series of stories.

Here come the Clones

Posted: February 4, 2009 in General
Tags: , ,

Stumbled upon this article recently, purporting to tell of the first ever extinct speices being cloned.  Now, before you get all excited about bringing back mammoths and dinosaurs and what not, it is important to note that the animal in question, a Pyrenean Ibex, only went extinct in 2000 and is a subspeices of the Spanish Ibex, which gives lots of advantage in the process.  Even so, the new born animal had a lung defect and didn’t live long.

For myself, if we could bring back one animal, it would be the Diprotodon, a member of the extinct Australian Megafauna.  The megafauna were a fascinating collection of extra large animals that died out around 40-50,000 years ago, the exact cause still a matter of debate.  Some believe they were hunted to extinction by Australian Aborigines, others that they died out due to climate change, either natural or as a result of the use of fire by the Aborigines to manage the environment.

Some of the animals in question were scary big, and dangerous.  These include Procoptodon goliah (Giant Short-Faced Kangaroo), a kangaroo up to 3 metres (10 feet) tall and weighing 232 KG (507 pounds), Zaglossus hacketti, an echidna the size of a sheep, Dromornis stirtoni (Stirton’s Thunder Bird), a 3 metre, 500 KG flightless bird that was likely carnivorous and the slightly smaller Bullockornis paleni, also known as the Demon Duck of Doom.

My favourite is Diprotodon optatum, the largest marsupial ever known to live.  Three metres long, two metres heigh and weighing in at over two thousand seven hundred kilos, it was a wombat the size of a hippopotamus.  We are talking big here, very big.

diprotodon

One of the things I am planning on doing is using some of these animals in my writing, mainly in the primal tales setting.  It fits in well, having these big, dangerous looking animals running around the place, giant carnivorous birds trying to eat people, massive wombats waddling around.