Speculative Dinosaur Project - Blogging

!ABOUT ME! Name:Timothy-Donald-Morris Location:Adelaide, South Australia, Australia I'm a young adult studying to become a visual practitioner. -The Speculative Dinosaur Project- "Spec" is a website-collaborative of conceptual zoology writing. It's on the subject of modern day fauna, and what it would be like if Dinosaurs never went extinct. This project is collaborative , involving numerous people on forums posting ideas, pictures and essays. I hope you enjoy yourself. Tim

Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

I'm a young adult studying to become a visual practitioner. This and my other two blogs are for excercises in speculative zoology. I hope you enjoy yourself. Tim

Thursday, February 23, 2006

SpecBlog - opening with a Bang! - squee!-

Highways through the heart of darkness

The "Hoser Highways" of the Congo and their inhabitants

The Congo of spec hides many strange things, it is a green chaos of life and death. For spexplorers, the prospect of delving into this "heart of darkness" was both exciting and terrifying. What is found there would change the way we view this place forever.

The largest of the forests inhabitants are the Rainforest gihugrongo (Neobrachius ingens), is a prodigious sight. The largest Neobrachius species, and one of Spec's largest sauropod dinosaurs , 22 metres long, 15 metres high at the head, and weighing 20 tonnes, they are a force of nature. As they feed, they keep large trails clear in the forest, browsing on the treetops as they stroll by. The colloquialism "hoser" is oftenused while referring to these animals.

The travelling hosers are, in reality, miniature ecosystems themselves. Parasitic dino-mites, ticks and leeches thrive around the softer parts of their bodies. Numerous small animals take advantage of this parasitic bounty. Dino-peckers (Dinosaurophilornis sp), tiny, black and white jaubs, specialise entirely on removing the parasites of dinosaurs, but they also pecks clean wounds, and will occasionally drink blood from the wounds. Many small insects and other creatures also alight on these travelling mountains. Geckos of the species *Lemuellogekko gulliverus*, which are about 13 centimetres long, will often spend most of their lives on the hoser's backs, preying on alighting insects and small parasites. These gekkos scramble down onto the ground when groups of hosers meet, in the ensuing time they will mate and lay eggs, afterwards alighting on another passing hoser. The strangest gypsy of this dinosaurian caravan is the Dino-hitch-hiker (Macrosolipugis dinosaurophilus), a 12 centimetre long wind-scorpion. By day it keeps to the shadier lower regions of the hoser's body, by night, it stalks over the creature's back and neck. It mainly eats the hoser's parasitic ticks, mites and leeches, but will also grab gekkos, resting moths, and even small birds.

Even around the hoser's face, we can find strange fellow travellers. Commonly seen resting in the hoser's throat dewlaps, and on the underside of the chin, are 5 centimetre, black beetles, known as flossers. These beetles (Oralophilus sp), will live mostly off the scraps of vegetation that accumulate around the hoser's mouth and between it's teeth. The hoser, unbelievably, is aware of these beetles, due to their strong peppery aroma, and instinctively gapes while inactive in order to let the flossers do their job.
The parasites targeting the soft spots around the nostrils and sinus are preyed upon by a speciallist, the nostrill mynah (Eutwitavis nasalophagus), black with a yellow crown, remarkable convergence on HE. It will actually go into the beast's nostrills, being so tiny.

The trails cleared through the jungle by the hosers, huge passageways 4 metres wide, that wind through the jungle, are best known by the name "Hoser highways". The ground level of these highways is constantly filled with low-growing vegetation, taking advantage of the sunlit tracts of land. Ferns, flowering buhes, young trees, herbage, even tiny species of orchids that grow nowhere else, turn the destructive actions of the hosers into a verdent garden. This area of re-growth, far from the gluttinous, branch stripping jaws of the hosers, is colloqially referrred to as the "wabe".

Among the small flowering plants at ground level, exquisite Jewell-bees (Ornatapis sp) hover among the blossums, these average sized bees vary greatly in colour between species, but all have a jewell like pearlescence to their exoskeletons. The undergrowth is often disturbed by small vertebrates. The Tove (Fossosuchus carrolae), is a badger sized, ground dwelling relative of the aardcroc, and is mainly an omnivore. It's jaws posess generalised, peg like teeth, and it's snout ends in a twisted, horn like growth, somewhat resmbling a corkscrew. This creature uses its snout to forage in the soil for roots, tubers, insects, and other forage. The snout's horn, has recently been resrearched thoroghly, and it has been found to be thickly permeated with chemoreceptors, and is packed with tactile nerves at it's core, as a result, it is believed that this growth is the creature's main organ for locating food. A constant prescence around the wabe are the hoser highway drifters (Probomys sp). These are herbivorous relatives of the ephrus, hopping bipedal afrotheres that mainly eat insects. Around the size of a rat, hoser highway drifters subsist mostly on the newly grown plants that grow on the hoser highways. They are bipedal saltators with a tapir like proboscis for gathering browse.

Worms and other soil dwelling insects are abundant in the wabe's soil and in the leaf litter of the forest floor. One bird that actively hunts such invertebrates is the Borogove (Borogovornis longirostris), a terrestrial Lithornid bird. With long, brown legs, a long slender beak, and shaggy dishevelled grey feathers, it looks uncannily like a mop standing on it's end. While it does fly to escape predators, it usually stays on the ground, where it probes the ground for it's invertebrate prey.

Many creatures from the deep jungle, like spakas, possum hounds, cimolestanms, sut, zams and many herbivorous and insectivorous birds will venture from the green cover to feed and socialise in the open space that the hoser highway and it's wabe provide. Also, the highways are stopovers and meeting places for the forest dinosaurs, like serveral varieties of forest saurolope, jackalope,and hogbird, aswell as the impressive gorillabird. Afew dinosaurians have specialised in feeding and living in the wabe. The Green wabe jackalope (Nanostruthiodactylus gracilis) is one such example, a daintily built ornithopod at a meter long and 10 kilograms. It can often be found browsing in small groups among the wabe. As too can the Congolese dwarf gluck (Nanoporcavis gallops) is 70cm long and as heavy as a large cockrel. It is an omnivorous oviraptorosaur, which will greedily pluck at low browse as well as digging and grubbing for insects and grubs with it's well-clawed feet and hands, and snapping them up in their bird like jaws.

The nanomokele (Nanomokelesaurus terrestrius) is without doubt the smallest sauropod in africa, reaching only 3 metres long and weighing about the same as a small cow. It is very shy, but can often be seen browsing in the wabe, and in areas where bushy plants cluster at the jungle's periphery. A strange creature, proved to be descended from the same ancestor as the nile mokele, it is more gracile and compact in body shape, with far more extensive bodily armour to protect it from predators. Despite it's armour, it will, at the slightest sign of danger, retreat into the forest to hide.

There are predatory dinosaurs here too, the congolese subspecies of Horned Molok (Afromoloch diabolus congolensis), is the terror of the forest. Rangier and smaller than other subspecies of horned molok, it mainly hunts forest saurolopes and hogbirds in family groups, but they will sometimes cooperate to bring down young hosers. Nevertheless, they ofen use the hoser highways as covenient paths through the forest as they search for prey. Black beastsSome maniraptors will also hunt in the wabe. The congolese raffer (Vulpornis congolensis), a typical dromaeosaur in size at 2m long and 30 kilograms, long mainly stalks the jungle in search of small vertebrate prey, but it will very often ambush small animals of the wabe from the adjacent cover. The name "raffer" is a proud continuation of the tradition of onomatopeic Mattiraporid names, it's hiss-like-chirp, "rha-pha", is a common jungle sound.

One beast that is almost constantly seen in the periphery beween the forest and the wabe is the Mome-croc (Suinosuchus chloris), a large crocodile roaming the forest floor seems a long way from home. A pig-sized, destructive hoplocroc, very round and quite heavily built for it's size, it has an upturned, horny nosepiece used like a pig's snout for uprooting plants. Though heavily armoured, it still actively defends itself, biting and screeching loudly. It can often be heard calling in it's guttral, sneeze like bark, insterspersed with whistling exhalations, in order to communicate with other members of it's species, to claim territory, and to attract females. To see one feeding can be quite upsetting, as it powerfully, but discerningly, uproots and devours plants, crudely mastcating them with it's stout teeth before swallowing large portions whole.

Small animals tend to follow the destructive jungle herbivores around, feeding on the disturbed mess, excrement, and agitated insects in it's wake. On the relatively-frequent occasion of seeing hosers pass through the highway as they feed, one will see a similar, but even more extensive gaggle of small creatures feeding in the hoser's wake. Insectivorous birds, predaceous flying insects like dragonflies, Xenotheridians, Pediomyids and Deltatheridians of many kinds from the surrounding jungle form a constant, ground-level-craravan. They are constantly feeding on stirred-up insects, pulverised vegetation, excrement, and eachother.

A newly discovered Archaeoplumian theropod (Dodgsonia archeoplumoides), subtly colured dappled brown, and quick witted, has only ever been seen or collected among passing hosers, and apparently associates with them it's whole life. It is most often only 70cm long and weighing little more than 1 kilogram. Obviously having fine lives foraging in the shadows of giants, no large predator would be able to get close enough to chase it, even if the sharp-eyed Archaeoplume didn't notice the danger. Recent evidence suggests that they even nest among hosers, raising the chicks on prey attracted to hoser nests and foraged from adjacent areas. The theropod itself is clearly too small to tackle even a newly hatchedhoserling.

The most terrible camp follower is the Nandi-dog (Cynodromeus agilis), catching any unfortunate that is unwary enough to not see it. A small, 2 kilogram possum-hound, it can run faster than any other metacanid.

Another exclusive camp follower is the Halcyon (Longorostrus serratomandibula). It is similar in size to a large raven, and likewise is very similar in shape, but is, in reality, a large kingfisher. It can snatch small prey items, like mammals and reptiles, using it's long, sword-like beak, which is lined with serrations, and is bright red, banded in black. The body is adppled in black, dark green and azure blue, with a metallic red sheen, the underparts of the bird are saffron yellow, and the face is spotted with yellow specks.

The sections of deep forest between hoser highways have beenhitherto seldom explored. It is generally referred to as, "The Tulgey Wood".


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