Crossover! Dinosaur Week vs. Encyclopedia Week

Last week was Dinosaur Week II, so I'm bringing out another theme from last year. This is Encyclopedia Week II!

But to ease us into it is one of those fiction non-fiction books that are so precious to me, The New Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon. Through speculative research and his brilliant illustrations, Dixon imagines what the Earth's fauna would be likeif the dinosaurs had never died out. Gone is the mass extinction and the rise of the mammals. Yet what remains is an Earth that looks like our own, with its continents in a familiar pattern and its habitats mirroring our own. Because the same adaptations mammals evolved would be required of the dinosaurs to fill certain niches, you'll find a lot that's familiar... and yet completely askew.

For lack of space, respect for the book and my scanner's limits, I'll only show you my favorites from each continent. You'll have to check out "An Alternative Evolution" yourself for the rest. Well worth it, dinosaur fans!

Africa: The Vespaphaga
One can only imagine that a saurian Dave Sim would have created a Vaspaphaga version of Cerebus. This is a perfect example of a new niche holder that looks a lot like the old one by virtue of having the same necessary adaptation.

Eurasia: The Formisaur
I'm sure there would still be ants on this alternate Earth, but the Formisaurs give them a run for their money. Their adaptation of relegating the egg-laying to a single female in any given colony has turned them into super-ants living in large thatch condos.

North America: The Nivesaur
I wanted to pick a dinosaur for the arctic clime, and the mountain-climbing, wrinkly Nivesaur fits the bill. That's one Big Foot you don't want to meet on the glacier.

South America: The Fluvisaur
There are a LOT of near creatures on this continent, including the one on the book's cover (a Caedosaur), but I love creatures of the sea, and this gentle(?) Amazonian river seal is just beautiful. It swallows stones to help it stay submerged. Take THAT, buoyancy!

Asia: The Multipollex
Who doesn't like an ape? An owl-ape? Descended from the hypsilodonts, these 2m-long (before the tail) creatures have developped two opposable thumbs on each hand. In line to become sentient?

Australia: The Gryllusaur
Australia always has to have the weirdest animals, and it's no different in the "Neozoic Era". What do you say? You just want to see the equivalent of the kangaroo? Ok.

The Oceans: Pinala Fusiforme
Killer penguin! 'nuff said.

Now, I've gone out of my way to show some of the weirdest beasts in Dixon's book, but there are still recognizable dinosaurs of the brachiosaur and carnosaur types. Some shapes are just more successful than others, and that's why they last so long, same way we still have crocodiles and lawyers. Check it out if you can.


De said...

The dinosaur ants are just plain weird. Would there be an environmental need for reptiles of that size? I'm having a hard time imagining an evolutionary scenario where that sort of creature would occur.

Siskoid said...

As food gets scarce near desert habitats, the bigger dinosaurs die or leave, and the smaller ancestor of the Formisaur survives by leaving all the egg-laying to a single female, while the others search for food and share.

I'm away from the book, but it explains it believably.

Bully said...

Darn! I thought this post was going to be dinosaurs versus Encyclopedia Brown.

"You see, Bugs Meany COULDN'T have let loose this 'brontosaurus', as that is merely an incorrect name for the apato..."


Siskoid said...


species 125 said...

I quite like the idea of dino-ants. Given enough time, and the right environmental conditions and genetic mutations, an organsism could adapt to colonise any niche.

Have you read Steven Baxter's "Evolution"? It's a science fiction book, mainly about the evoluton of primates, however it does have dinosaurs evolving into humanoid form.

FoldedSoup said...

once again Siskoid, you do a write-up on a book that I had completely forgotten I once owned as a wee lad.

Now, I must get it again.


Siskoid said...

See, that's the advantage of never throwing anything away.


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