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|Future of The World|
|This is a part of Future of The World: a collaborative project about our planet's future|
What is the fate of life after the present day? What forms will meet evolution, and which will meet extinction? Such is one of the most discussed subjects of speculative evolution, and evolution in general; there are many documentaries showing future evolution, such as The Future is Wild and After Man: A Zoology of the Future. This is a prediction of what will happen to the fauna of the world, from various million years from the future. This project might not be believable in your eyes, but such is the nature of speculative evolution and evolution itself.
Five Million Years LaterEdit
The world is gripped by a global ice age. The ice from the poles reach as far south as Paris and, as a result, the climate is similar to the Pleistocene.
Due to the massive lowering of temperatures and sea levels around the world, the Earth is much more arid than it is today. Most of the world's rainforests have disappeared, giving way to vast expanses of grasslands; the only remaining forests are located near major, low-altitude river systems.
The fauna of this time is fairly similar to that of our present day, but due to the loss of major habitats, several major groups have drastically declined or gone extinct – examples include Proboscideans, forest-dwelling animals, and organisms in shallow seas.
Ten Million Years LaterEdit
The earth has finally began to warm in ten million years time, returning to levels comparable to those of the present day. Species adapted to the cold now have to adapt to the warmer climate. The descendants of humans have begun to recover, and have re-migrated to areas formerly under ice.
The rising temperatures, mixed with rising sea levels and an increase in the Earth's volcanic activity, has caused a major rise in the humidity of the planet's climates. Many places that were once above sea level have returned underwater, and rainforests have begun to reappear in their former ranges.
Due to the time it takes tectonic plates to move, the earth is still very recognisable, but several changes have occurred, such as the beginning of a new subduction zone running southwest of Australia into the south-central Indian Ocean, the flooding of part the East African Rift Valley to form a narrow seaway, and the upward movement of Australia and Africa towards Eurasia, the latter causing the closing and gradual disappearance of the Mediterranean Sea.
The fauna of this time is fairly similar to ours. But the Earth's diversity of lifeforms have increased, specially, the avians and the mammals. Amphibians are recovering rapidly from previous times, and are filling insectivorous and semi-aquatic niches fast. Fishes are thriving, though only a few number of species have changed and evolved into new species. The reptiles haven't changed that much, but two groups -- the New Mosasaurs and the Gubernatoroids - have appeared. The New Mosasaurs have filled in the niches left vacant by the larger cetaceans, particularly as the Earth's apex marine predators. The Gubernatoroids, on the other hand, are a group of arboreal reptiles that would eventually become the first airborne reptiles, since the Pterosaurs that went extinct 76 million years before.
Thirty-Two Million Years Later Edit
This time in Earth's history, the collision of Africa and Eurasia, Australia and North America, the full opening of the African Rift Valley to the rest of the ocean, and a flood basalt eruption in central Asia, has caused a significant increase in the levels of volcanic/greenhouse gases, as well as severe climate change, resulting in an extinction event similar to the Permian extinction, albeit on a less destructive scale, with roughly 40-50% of the Earth's species at the time becoming extinct. Casualties include all large mammalian megafauna, all large marine mammals, around 70% of bird species, and basal New Mosasaurs.
Forty-Five Million Years Later Edit
The earth is well into the new age of reptiles, with the Lepidosaurs being the most successful group. Some groups of reptiles include giant endothermic, erect limbed monitor descendants, hyena-like crocodilians and rhino sized lizards. In the skies, the largest things to take to the air since the Wright Brother's first flight now dominate the sky, with some forms even larger than the largest pterosaurs. The seas have been fully conquered by the New Mosasaurs, with only a few aquatic carnivorans and a species of dolphin marking the former dominance of the marine mammals. The African Rift Valley has formed into a large shallow sea, similar to the modern Red Sea, which itself is now a small ocean basin connecting the forming Mediterranean Mountains to the African Rift Ocean. The Atlantic and Southern Ocean are the largest seas at the time, and a new plate boundary has formed along the Atlantic edge of South America, with a separate new boundary running from India to New Zealand, running south of Australia.
Seventy Million Years LaterEdit
The climate at this time is similar to what it was 25 million years earlier, and is slightly warmer than today. The fauna, however, is now quite different. Lepidosaurs dominate, but the groups are much more similar to derived terrestrial archosaurs in metabolic rate and limb morphology, enabling them to become actively efficient predators, much more so than their predecessors, which were still rather generic lizards. Some of these lizards, the Theriosauria, are the largest terrestrial predators of their time in the world. The Aquavaranids fared better than marine mammals, possibly because most were rather poor swimmers compared to marine mammals, restricting them to shelf seas, and pelagic ecosystems fared worse than shelf seas in this extinction. Now, they dominate the oceans, with everything from shark-like predators to giants like the Ryvena. However, the diversification of reptiles in Borealia has produced a rival, the first of a new and advanced marine reptilian lineage, the venenosuchia, have taken to the seas, evolving into the first of a new order, the Halilycosauria. There, some of these very derived venomous squamates are outcompeting the Aquavaranoidea, and are likely to drive them into extinction in the shelf seas they once thrived in.
Snakes, the other great group of squamates, are still rather similar to what they are today, but there are at least a third more species than what exist in the Holocene. Some of these species, like their limbed relatives, are endothermic.
Although they aren't nearly as diverse as the Lepidosaurs, Archosaurs- crocodiles and birds -have remained largely successful, even with the extinction event 38 million years before, with the latter recovering faster than mammals during the rise of reptilian diversity. Even though many groups have gone extinct in the past, birds have begun to regain the diversity they had during the Holocene. Some have even grown large enough to compete with Gubernatoroids, the main aerial creatures, which have started to decline.
The Pacific ocean is now no longer the largest ocean on Earth, with the still growing Atlantic being almost 50% wider than it is today, and the combined Southern/African Rift Ocean covering the southern two fifths of the globe, with Antarctica being an island continent in the South Pacific just south of the latitude and location of modern New Zealand.
The northern supercontinent of Borealia, composed of Eurasia, Africa, Australia and North America, has taken shape mostly in the northern hemisphere, with North America centered on the north pole. South America and Antarctica are isolated, and neither has much of the reptilian diversity of Borealia.
One Hundred Million Years Edit
One Hundred Million Years in the future, and the Earth has continued to warm. Tropical climates can be found throughout the globe, and the rising water levels has led to the rise of warm, shallow seas. There are no polar ice caps, and the only places with any bit of snow or ice are the large deserts and mountain ranges of central Borealia.
The fauna of this time has seen considerable changes following such drastic climate change. The northern supercontinent of Borealia is still dominated by reptiles, but the much warmer, more fertile climate has led to the decline of more primitive groups, as well as the appearance of new, more advanced groups. The scutosquamids, once the most common herbivores of Borealia, have since gone extinct; their niches as the primary plant-eaters have been filled by new groups of reptiles. One such group is the Osteodonts, a relatively new order of smaller, beaked reptiles with a resemblance to dicynodonts and more basal bird-hipped dinosaurs. They've already become quite successful, spreading from their ancestral hearth on the Australian peninsula and establishing themselves across the rest of Borealia.
Due to the loss of many prey species, the primary predatory reptiles of Borealia, the Theriosaurs, have begun a steady decline. Many families of Theriosaurs. Some families, such as the Suchomorphids and Theriosaurids, have gone extinct completely, whereas others, like the Godzillasaurids, have seen sharp declines due to loss of prey and increasing competition. The loss of Theriosaur diversity has allowed for the appearance of a new, rival order of predatory reptiles; the Maurosodontids. Although the Maurosodontids have already existed for 30 million years, it is from this point that they begin to spread out and diversify, with groups filling in the niches formerly held by Theriosaurs. At this point, they consist of quadrupedal, carnivorous reptiles with a passing resemblance to primitive dinosaurs.
Archosaurs have remained quite diverse, with crocodilians changing little since the present day. Some new families have, however, begun to move away from semi-aquatic lifestyles and start living as primarily terrestrial hunters. Birds, on the other hand, have positively thrived in the new, tropical climates; there are now around 40% more species than there are today. They have since reclaimed the skies from the Gubernatoroids, who have been driven to extinction, and have diversified into new niches.
The continents have also seen drastic change in the last thirty million years. Although the expansion of the Atlantic and shrinking of the Pacific has since begun to slow down, the two oceans still see frequent tectonic activity, with new archipelagoes forming in the major oceans; in the Pacific alone, there are some thirty thousand new islands that have formed. Perhaps the most drastic change is in the northward movement of Antarctica, which now sits at the same latitude as modern-day Australia. This new position, paired with the tropical climate, has led to the formerly barren continent to develop massive tropical rainforests and lush grasslands. Many species from Borealia and South America have begun migrating to the island continent, beginning a new era in Antarctica's diversity.