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Having read the brief discussion on Dougal Dixon's 'alternative evolution'
books, I couldn't resist the desire to contribute. Dixon wrote (and illustrated
- he's a very talented artist!) three books which, in order, are AFTER MAN, THE
NEW DINOSAURS and MAN AFTER MAN. All three are now out of print in the UK, Man
after Man came out in paperback here a coupl'a years back and the other two are
I haven't even seen After Man, but am familiar with the ideas following a
summary it got some book about 'evolution in the cosmos' some time back and an
article in Focus magazine three or four months ago. Many mammals go extinct in
the near future, but remnants of some faunas remain and undergo massive
radiations. The giant carnivorous rats are neat, and I suppose somewhat
plausible. But my favourites are the giant flightless bats that evolve on
islands in the Indian Ocean. Aquatic fish-eating monkeys, vivaparous penguins
that converge on baleen whales ('penguales'!) and antelope-like bunnies are
among the other delights.
I searched long and hard for a copy of The New Dinosaurs, having had my
proverbial palate wetted by the snippets in Dinosaur Fact File (David Lambert)
and BBC wildlife. Things turned out to be a bit of a disappoinment, though, as
many of the creatures were a bit silly looking. Pterosaurs survive and displace
birds as, for example, moa-types and kiwi-types. Pterosaurs that become giant,
flightless grazers (called Lanks) look pretty neat, as do many of the plain-
and forest-dwelling theropods. A flamingo-mimic theropod - the Cribbum - is a
big no-no in my opinion, as soda-lake filter-feeders must be able to fly.
Sauropods, strangely, remain particularly uniform (but one of them, the
Bradyphant, has well differentiated fingers and toes - it that an evolutionary
reversal or an artistic error?). Hysilophodontids (and Dryosaurids) have great
post-K history, some evolving aquatic forms that look like dinosaurian manatees,
others taking to the trees. Tyrannosaurids - a thing called the Gourmand is the
example - simply become bigger, and are specialised scavengers. So I don't agree
with that one at all. Some theropods have a tendency for apody and become snaky
things that then take to burrowing and swimming. Again, this is silly as
dinosaurs wouldn't have been successful against snakes, which were already
apparent in the Cretaceous. Pliosaurs evolve filter-feeding whales types, and
elasmosaurs become... well, just elasmosaurs really. Ammonites, obviously,
remain and are pretty much the same as K forms but one, the (surprise surprise)
Kraken, is a mega huge thing with trailing poisonous tentacles. Hadrosaurs take
to the plains as Sprintosaurs (kind of duck-billed pronghorns) and bizarre, and
neat looking, theropods evolve to prey on them. Pterosaurs evolve 'plungers'
(like a penguin but with teeth) and lots of little theropods (arbrosaurs) take
to the trees, evolving nectar-feeders, gliders, 'woodpeckers', mustelid-type
carnivores and even a scaly pangolin-type thing (called a pangaloon).
But as for intelligent dinosaurs...... he creates none, and thank goodness.
To read all about Dale Russell's thought process and speculations on his
'dinosauroid' (troodontid descendant) see his paper in DINOSAURS PAST AND
PRESENT VOL. I (edited by CZERKAS AND OLSON).
All the above stuff is obviously just fiction, or science-fiction. It's
interesting because it stimulates thought on the possibilites of evolution and
the genetic and other adaptive qualities of animals. So it's not to be taken
too seriously (I think), don't shelve it with your Weishampel, Dodson &
"That sounds like an R-2 unit, I wonder if..."
"Who are you?" "Oh my, oh I'm terribly sorry, I didn't mean to, oh no please
don't get up........" LASER BLAST