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After Man: A Zoology of the Future

After Man: A Zoology of the Future is a 1981 speculative evolution book by the Scottish geologist and author, Dougal Dixon. In it, he presents his hypothesis of various organisms apparent after a mass extinction succeeding our own time. - Wikipedia

Originally published: 1981
Author: Dougal Dixon
Nominations: Hugo Award for Best Related Work, Locus Award for Best Non-Fiction
Geography of the future

In this new period of the Cenozoic, called the Posthomic, Dixon assumes that Europe and Africa would fuse, closing the Mediterranean Sea; whereas Asia and North America would collide and close the Bering Strait; South America would split from Central America; Australia would collide with Southern Asia (colliding with the mainland sometime in the last 10 million years), uplifting a mountain range beyond the mountains of the Far East that becomes the most extensive and the highest chain in the world, greater even than the Himalayas at their zenith 50 million years ago; and parts of eastern Africa would split off to form a new island called Lemuria. Other volcanic islands have been added, such as the Pacaus archipelago and Batavia.

Major groups of After Man: A Zoology of the Future
Some of the larger groups in the future include:

Rabbucks
Rabbucks fill the ecological niches of deer, zebras, giraffes and antelope; but they are descended, as the name suggests, from rabbits. They live in almost any environment, and feed on grass. Their anatomy resembles that of ungulates.

Gigantelope
The gigantelope take the niche held by elephants, giraffes, moose, musk oxen, rhinoceroses, and other large herbivores. They are descended from antelopes, and range in a wide variety of forms. One subbranch have evolved into the large, moose-like herbivores of the north (called the "hornheads").

Predator rats
The major group of terrestrial predators, who fill almost every carnivorous niche. They evolved, as the name suggests, from rats, and range in forms resembling polar bears, wolves,wolverines, cats, and even aquatic walrus-like forms.

Carnivorans
For the most part, Dixon assumes that carnivorans have either gone extinct, or have been forced into peripheral niches like the Creodonts in the Oligocene. A few still exist: the shurrack, pamthret, striger, ghole, gurrath, and nightglider.

Similar projects

Paleontologist Peter Ward wrote another book on a different perspective on future evolution, one with humans intact as a species. This book is called Future Evolution. Dixon's later work Man After Man also includes man. In 2002, a program on Animal Planet called The Future Is Wild—for which Dixon was a consultant—advances further using more precise studies of biomechanics and future geological phenomena based on the past.

See also
AUTHORS INTRODUCTION
Evolution is a process of improvement. Hence, looking at the animals and plants of today and their interactions - the delicate balance between the flora, the herbivores and the meat-eaters; the precise engineering of the load-bearing structures of the giraffe's backbone; the delicate sculpting of the monkey's foot, enabling it to grasp objects as well as to climb trees; the subtle coloration of the puff-adder's skin, hiding it completely among the dead leaves of the forest floor - and trying to project all of that into the future is a near impossibility. For how can you improve upon perfection?
One trend that is foreseeable, however, is the ruinous effect that man is having on the precise balance of nature. I have taken this not unjustifiably to an extreme, with man having extinguished the species that are already on the decline and having wreaked terrible destruction on their natural habitats before dying out himself and allowing evolution to get back to work, repairing his damage and filling in the gaps left behind. The raw materials for this reparation are the kinds of animals that do well despite, or because of, man's presence and which will outlive him - those that man regards as pests and vermin. These are more likely to survive than are the highly modified and interbred domestic animals that he develops and encourages to suit his own needs. The result is a zoology of the world set, arbitrarily, 50 million years in the future, which I have used to expound some of the basic principles of evolution and ecology. The result is speculation built on fact. What I offer is not a firm prediction - more an exploration of possibilities.
The future world is described as if by a time-traveller from today who has voyaged the world of that time and has studied its fauna. Such a traveller will have some knowledge of today's animal life and so he can describe things with reference to the types of animals that will be familiar to the reader. His report is written in the present tense as if addressed to fellow time-travellers who have voyaged to the same period and wish to explore the world for themselves.
Sit back, fellow time-travellers, and enjoy the spectacle and drama of the evolution of life on your planet.

THE ISLANDS OF BATAVIA
Although volcanic mountains and islands usually form where two crustal plates meet and crush against one another they also form over 'hot spots' on the earth's crust - areas lying above intense activity deep in the earth's mantle. Directly over the hot spot a volcano is formed. When the crust passes away from the centre of activity the volcano becomes extinct and a fresh one then erupts alongside it, producing in time a chain of progressively older volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean. During the Age of Man, a hot spot was responsible for producing the Hawaiian island chain, and in the Pacific at the present time a hot spot is in the process of generating the Batavian Islands.
Birds are usually the first vertebrates to reach and settle on new islands, but in the case of Batavia the first vertebrates to arrive were their mammalian equivalents, the bats. By the time that the birds did arrive, the bats were so well established that there were few unoccupied evolutionary niches left and the birds have never colonized the islands to any extent. The presence of suitable food on the ground, and the absence of predators enabled many bats to take up a terrestrial existence and to fill a large number of ecological niches.
The flooer, Florifacies mirabila, has remained an insect-eater, but is now largely sedentary. Its brightly coloured ears and nose flaps mimic a species of flower found on the islands. It sits among them with its face turned upwards, snapping at any insect that attempts to land. Although it has arisen independently, the flooer's feeding mode is remarkably similar to that of the flower-face potoo, Griseonycta rostrifiora, of South America and is an interesting instance of convergent evolution.
The flightless shalloth, Arboverspertilio apteryx, is an omnivorous tree-dwelling bat which spends its life hanging upside down like the ancient sloth. It eats leaves and the occasional insect or small vertebrate caught by a swift jab of its single claw.
The beaches are home for the packs of surfbats, Remala madipella, which fish in the shallow waters around the coral reefs. Their hind legs, wings and tail flaps have developed into swimming and steering organs and their bodies have become sleek and streamlined. Their evolution from a flying, through a terrestrial form, into an aquatic creature is very similar to the evolutionary development of the penguin.
Once other vertebrates had established themselves on the islands, a family of ground-dwelling predator bats arose. These creatures walk on their front legs - on what would, in the case of a flying bat, be its wings, the site of most of its locomotor muscles. Their hind legs and feet are still used for grasping, but now fall forward to hang down below their chin. As the bats locate their prey purely by echolocation, their ears and nose flaps have developed at the expense of their eyes, which are now atrophied.
The largest and most fearsome of these creatures is the night stalker, Manambulus perhorridus. One and a half metres tall, it roams screeching and screaming through the Batavian forest at night in packs. They prey indiscriminately on mammals and reptiles, attacking them with their ferocious teeth and claws.

The surfbat, Remala madipella, is a flightless, semiaquatic, sea lion-like noctilionoid bat from the seaside beaches of Batavia, from After Man: A Zoology of the Future.

The Batavian beaches are home to packs of surfbats which fish in the shallow waters around the coral reefs. Their hind legs, wings and tail flaps have developed into swimming and steering organs and their bodies have become sleek and streamlined. Their evolution from a flying, through a strictly terrestrial walking form, into an semiaquatic creature is very similar to the evolutionary development of the penguin.
The streamlined aquatic surfbat is descended from a conventional flying bat ancestor. Its flippers, formed from what were once wings, have become stubby and muscular.

On land the surfbat leaps along on ins tail and forelimbs. When resting its tail is curled under its body.

The flightless shalloth, Arboverspertilio apteryx, is an omnivorous, flightless, arboreal, primate/three-toed sloth-like vesper bat from the tropical forests of Batavia which spends its life hanging upside down like the ancient three-toed sloth.

It eats leaves and the occasional insect or smaller vertebrate (such as a rodent) caught by a swift jab of its single claw.


The purrip bat, Caecopterus sp., is a vesper bat found throughout temperate latitudes of the world (Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and South America). It is so called because of its curious voice.

As dusk falls in the temperate woodlands and the moths and night-active flies take to the air the insectivorous bats appear to feed on them. Bats have proved so successful in their shape and lifestyle that in most parts of the world they have remained remarkably stable in shape and form ever since they first appeared back in the Middle Paleogene (Early Eocene epoch, or Ypresian). Save for the development of a more sophisticated echolocation system, positioned at the front of the face and the absence of eyes in many species, little else has changed.

Unlike the most other bats which generally navigate using high-pitched sounds, the purrip bat uses a much wider range of frequencies extending well into the audible level, giving it a much more sophisticated picture of the terrain.


The purrip bat's sensitive ears are positioned far forward at the front of its face to provide it with the largest possible sound-collecting surface.

The purrip bat's sonar equipment is typical of most temperate woodland bats.


The night stalker's powerful front legs are developed from the wings of its ancestors. Its back feet, which were originally used for grasping and clutching, now come over its shoulders and effectively form hands.

The night stalker, Manambulus perhorridus, is large, ferocious, pack-hunting, flightless leaf-nosed bat fromBatavia, from After Man: A Zoology of the Future.

Once other vertebrates had established themselves on the islands, a new family of ground-dwelling predatory bats arose. These creatures walk on their front legs (on what would, in the case of a flying bat, be its wings, the site of most of its locomotors muscles). Their hind legs and feet are still used for grasping, but now fall forward to hang down below their chin. As the bats locate their prey purely by echolocation, their ears and nose flaps have developed at the expense of their eyes, which are now atrophied.

The largest and most fearsome of these creatures is the night stalker. One and a half meters tall, it roams screeching and screaming through the Batavian forests at night in packs. They prey indiscriminately on other mammals and reptiles, attacking them with their ferocious teeth and claws.


The flooer has glands around its mouth that produce a sweet-smelling secretion that is attractive to insects.

The flooer, Florifacies mirabila, is an insectivorous, flightless, largely sedentary leaf-nosed bat from Batavia, from After Man: A Zoology of the Future.

Its brightly colored ears and nose flaps mimic a species of flower found on the islands. It sits among them with its face turned upwards, snapping at any insect that attempts to land. Although it has arisen independently, the flooer's feeding mode is remarkably similar to that of the flower-faced potoo of South America and is an interesting instance of convergent evolution.


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