After Man: A Zoology of the Future (1981) 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. It is told as if narrated by a time traveller who has gone 50 million years into the future, and is describing the fauna he sees.
Geography and Ecology[edit | edit source]
In this new period of the Cenozoic, called the Posthomic, Europe and Africa fuse, closing the Mediterranean Sea, and Asia and North America collide and close the Bering Strait; whereas South America splits off from Central America. Australia collides 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.
In this world, deer and many other ruminants, perrisodactyls (horses,rhinos and tapirs), whales, elephants, bears, big cats, canids, pinnipeds and many other megafauna present today have gone extinct because of human activities, leaving their respective niches free for smaller, more adaptable creatures to take. Creatures known as Rabbucks have filled 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 they have replaced. The surviving ungulates have grown large, becoming the Gigantelopes, which 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"). Rodents, meanwhile have become hunters such as the Predator Rats, a 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.
Species featured[edit | edit source]
Temperate Forest and Grassland[edit | edit source]
- Rabbucks, Ungulagus spp., especially the common rabbuck, Ungulagus silvicultrix, are rabbit-like animals that fill the role of deer.
- Hopping Rabbucks, Macrolagus spp., large rabbit like animals ancestral to the true rabbucks.
- Falanx, Amphimorphodus cynomorphus, a predatory rodent that fills the role of wolves and has a similar anatomy. It works as a pack to take down rabbucks (see above).
- Rapide, Amphimorphodus cynomorphus, a predator rat like the falanx, but with a similar anatomy to cheetahs, allowing it to chase down prey at great speed.
- Temperate Ravene, Vulpemys ferox, a fox or wild cat like predator rat that hunts smaller prey.
- Janiset, Viverinus brevipes, a predator rat with a slim body resembling a large weasel, and can follow its prey down their burrows.
- Tusked Mole, Scalprodens talpiforme, a semi-carnivorous mole species which lives underground much like its ancestors, but possesses a paddle like tail and large tusks.
- Testadon, Armatechinos impenetrabilis, an armadillo like mammal with armour descended from hedgehogs, and can roll into an impenetrable ball when threatened.
- Oakleaf Toad, Grima frondiforme, a toad species that resembles an oak leaf, allowing it to camouflage. It uses its wormlike tongue to catch its prey. It has a curious relationship with predator rat, as a parasite that lives in its body must reach a predator rat to breed, its colour changes to bright green, causing the toad to get eaten and the parasite to pass on.
- Chirit, Tendesciurus rufus, an squirrel that moves in an 'inchworm' movement, descended from creatures like the Chiselhead (see below).
- Tree-drummer, Proboscisuncus spp., a shrew like animal with a long proboscis and tusks that it uses to locate and extract grubs beneath the tree bark.
- Tree Goose, Pendavis bidactylus, a goose that hangs upside-down like a bat using its highly modified two-toed feet.
- Purrip Bat, Caecopterus spp., a bat species that is blind and navigates entirely by echolocation.
- Lutie, Microlagus mussops, a vole like animal descended from rabbits.
- Truteal, Terebradens tubauris, a blind insectivorous mammal in which the teeth have become a beak used for finding food.
- Shrock, Melesuncus sylvatius, a badger like animal descended from shrews.
- Reedstilt, Harundopes virgatus, the creature pictured on the cover, a large heron like mammal that feeds on fish.
- Pfrit, Aquambulus hirsutus, a small insectivorous mammal that can walk on water without sinking because of its feet, which are covered in tiny hairs. It feeds on the juices of underwater invertebrates, sucked through a needle like snout.
- Angler Heron, Butorides piscatorius, a heron species that constructs small ponds and baits them to attract fish.
- Long-necked Dipper, Apterocinclus longinuchus, a dipper species with a long neck that becomes flightless as it ages.
Coniferous Forest[edit | edit source]
- Common Hornhead, Cornudens vulgaris, moose like ungulates with beak like mouths used to feed on pine needles, formed by an extension of the horns. They still retain their horns, which are used to fight for mating rights.
- Helmeted Hornhead, Cornudens horridus, a more primitive hornhead species with axe like horns.
- Water Hornhead, Cornudens rastrostrius, a hornhead with branching horns and a spade like 'beak' used to feed on water plants.
- Ancestral Hornhead, Protocornudens spp., an extinct antelope like hornhead from which the other forms descended. It lacks the 'beak' of other hornhead.
- Pamthret, Vulpemustela acer, a large, pack hunting predatory mammal descended from weasels.
- Spine-tailed Squirrel, Humiscurius spinacaudatus, a squirrel with porcupine like spines on its tail, used for defense by raising its tail over its head.
- Broadbeak, Pseudofraga spp., a large predatory bird descended from starlings.
- Beaver, Castor spp., similar to the current species in behaviour, but with legs and tail fused to form a flipper, like a modern seal.
- Common Pine Chuck, Paraloxus larga, a bird with extreme sexual dimorphism, with a reddish male having a huge parrot like beak and the greenish female's resembling that of a warbler.
- Trevel, Scandemys longicaudata, a vole like climbing rodent with a prehensile tail.
- Chiselhead, Tenebra vermiforme, a worm likerodent with enormous teeth, used to bore into wood. The chirit (see above) is descended from similar animals.
Tundra and Mountains[edit | edit source]
Desert[edit | edit source]
Tropical Grassland[edit | edit source]
- Gigantelope: giant descendants of antelope that have evouvled a niche similar to an elephant.
- Raboon: carnivorous primates that descend from modern day baboons.
- horeen: cheetah like sprinters that hunt and live in groups.
- various rabbuck species such as the wakko.
- ghole: mongoose scavengers that are very important to the ecosystem.
- Large flightless birds descended from genuia fowl.