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

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Tulgey Wood

The Tulgey Wood - This Essay is devoted to our dear and suffering friend, Tiina.

Beyond the clear, relatively free-roaming expanese of the congo's hoser-highways, and their wabe, vegetation becomes almost impenetrably thick. Large trees and vines send their branches upward, while their tangled roots snake over the ground.

One of the most frequently encountered beasts at ground level and up in the trees is the Beamish mancarpo (Pithecornis agilis). A leaf-and-fruit eater, average sized at one kilogram, it will stray down to the ground to feast on fallen nuts and grapes, as well as to grab any other morsels that tend not to run away. A mundane grizzled grey, with a cap of ginger fur running from forehead to shoulder, small groups constantly remain aware as they forage in different levels of the forest, leaving a remarkable amount of mess for it's size. A constant accompaniment to these birds are the chortling carpos (Psitaccarpo striatus), striped yellow and black, active and noisy, they are quite small, only as heavy as parakeets. Eating nuts, buds and berries, they are attracted to the leavings and food scraps of the other birds. They leap nimbly from branch to branch, and down to the ground and back to the trees, one can barely keep track of their movements.

Many varieties of large carpo share the treetops and lower branches. Colobornithine carpos of Africa, exemplified by *Colobornis pacifidus*, are a fair size at up to 10 kilograms. These carpos are usually green above and white below, with black stripes running down the back. Their beak is more rounded, thick, and sharp edged, like that of a green sea turtle, which allows them to feed on even the toughest leaves, which are their main food. They are fairly inactive, clambering through the trees, costantly browsing, passing food from their clawed hands to their mouths, down to the swollen, frementing gut.

Presybitavine carpos like the well sudied *Languravis aureopteyx" are mainly fruit and nut eaters. This example is dark red and gold feathered, with white underparts, and weighing an average of 5 kilograms, and posessing a surprisingly long set of retrices, supported by an elongate pygostyle. It is active and long limbed, leaping through the trees in search of fruit, usually in small family groups. It has an elongate, hooked beak, used for adeptly plucking the ripe fruit and nuts.

The very startling, 20 kilogram megafrotheres that both climb the trees and roam through the tulgey and the wabe, like a bizarre cross between a pig and a baboon, puzzled scientists at first. They are the Job-Goblins (Maegafrotheroides dux), with curve-clawed feet for climbing and foraging, they are omnivorous, and eat almost anything they find on or above the ground, meat or vegetation. Their faces are warty, banded and blemished in red, yellow and green along their dog-like muzzles, which have impressive canines and crushing molars. Their fur is jet black, with yellow-white under-parts, and a ridge of stiff, reddish fur runs down their back. Their call has been referred to as a gruff "ughh!", they also make high pitched sqeals as they forage.

In places where stout, low palm growth, plantains, low soft vegetation and vines predominate, one will see areas apparently ripped apart indiscriminately, these are the feeding trails of the Gorillabird (Hapaloraptor robustus). A huge, shaggy hogbird, with a bulging, segnosaur-like gut, standing four metres tall, and being six metres long, seeing a gorillabird is an experience that one will not soon forget. They have enormous, powerfull jaws, albeit not as strong as they look, it was once thought that they could crack giant coconuts. They use such jaws to rip apart branches, and to tear palms down to get at their succulent frond-bases and hearts, they particularily like plantains and ferns also. They often weigh as much as half a tonne, and have giant claws, which they use to pull down, and pull apart branches, much like therizinosaurs. They are mainly restricted to the deepest areas of forest including upland rainforest. they have characteristic green hide on their underside and legs, and green-black stripes on their thighs.

Some birds, like numerous tweeties, will follow such large herbivores, feeding on the resulting flurry of disturbed insects. The shovel bird (Spatulorostrus tulgeyi) is a large terrestrial chaardriform bird that perferrs to disturb the ground itself. Posessing an immesnely strong, long beak with a shovel like process at the end, the bird pours over the soil and leaf litter, upturning the ground and feeding on worms, lizards, snakes, and insects. Averaging at the size of a goose, with long walking legs, it makes it's way through the forest by day, feeding as it goes. They fly well, but seldom.

Another foraging ground bird, the congo butter (Manteqiliagallus largus) is a turkey sized omnivorous galliform. With powefull legs, it scratches at the leaf litter, finding all sorts of nutrient rich moresls, small animals, insects and tubers, even tiny subterranean orchids (Subterraneoflora sp). It's upper regions are a rich, dark green, and it's underparts are a buttery-yellow, hence the name of the butters as a group. It's flesh apparently has a buttery taste also. All butters, found across tropical eurasia and africa, make a mound nest, like HE's megapodes, to incubate their young, which emerge fully developed. Their flight is typically poor, like most galliforms, and they prefer to run away from danger.

The bitter butter (Atrociogallus nanus) is a similar, but much smaller, insectivorous galliform. Brightly coloured unioform red and blue, they ingest numerous varieties of poisonous insects, and small gemmules, poisonous lizards. They subsequently have very poisonous and bitter flesh, eggs and feathers, to repell predators, and ner-do-wells.

Omnivorous flying foragers found around tree trunks, Staghorn-bills (Diablornatocorvus gigantorostris) are hornbill-like nearcrows that feed on anything protein rich. Their plumage is copper and yellow above, with bright green underparts, they fly periodically from tree-trunk, to tree-trunk. They use ther powerfull, curved beaks to loosen their food from the cracks in the bark or from amongst the branches. Perhaps it's most amazing attribute is it's outlandish bill-casque, which curves up from the bill's base and forms a horn like projection, much like in some beetles. Males have larger casques, and joust at eachother in flight and on branches as they fight over females.

Around the secluded waterways of the congo's tributaries, one will find an equally astounding variety of life. The congolese sub-species of Mokele (Mokelesaurus mbembe congolenis) is slightly smaller than other subspecies, but is equally destructive and noisy in it's feeding. The carp-cichlid (Mokelichthys medius) is a detritivorous fish that constantly feeds around the water-bourne vegetative scraps and dung of the mokele.

The chotcho (Tussisaurus timmledorfi) is a primitive ciraphadrid found in the deep tulgey wood. They make up a species that travels in small family groups, and feed generally on low and medium height vegetation, like a hadrosaurian okapi.
They make cough-like calls, hence the name, and they usually linger around waterways and swamps, it is thought that they retreat into the water when threatened. Their horns are only small growths, and this may hint a relation to the ciraph's ancestors.

Drum frogs (Percussanura sp) and Cymbal frogs (Aureopercussanura sp) are seldom seen but almost always heard. They are fairly normal in appearance and size for a frog, former brown, the latter golden. Their calls are percussive sounds, and sound like drums or symbal respectively.

Another loud inhabitant is the chicken-sized Horn-duck (Purpruanas vocalis), a bright purple duck that has a golden beak and a remarkably brassy, horn-like call. They graze and browse near and under the water, using powerfull, webbed feet to reach the riverbed and escape from danger on land.

The jungle pantherbull (Tauropanthera chloropardalis) is the chief predator of this shadowy realm. Light, greyish brown with a milange of black and dark green spots in complex patterns, it merges nearly invisibly into the dark jungle. It has shorter legs than most other cursorial pantherbulls, but it can run quicky and powefully through the thick undergrowth. It is six metres long and three quaters of a ton in weight. It's primary prey are forest saurolopes and jackalopes, even young gorillabirds. It almost completely lacks cranial ornamentation.

The highest browsing forest saurolope is the Greenbeeste (Chlorotherium cornuta), a superbly camouflaged, long necked ciraphadrid. With black and green mottlings all over it's body, it moves gracefully through the forest periphery, inbetween the wabe and the tulgey, almost imperceptable against the grean curtans around it. Again at around six meters, and around two tonnes, it is a forest ciraph, to an extent, secretive, tall, gracefull, but seldom seen.

The red faced Bostop (Antillomanus robustus) is a colourfull, four meter long caeonoceratopian of uncertain affinities, at a weight of a third of a ton. It is built very lightly for it's size, with long, slender legs for a ceratopian, it spends most of it's time constantly browsing around clearings and stripping bark from trees. They are infamous for their aggressive territorial habits, charging at any sign of danger at agressors that are not too large, putting their sharp, backswept nasal horn to good use.

The spiny undaur (Spinundaur spinosus), is the only african undaur known. About 3 tonnes, and around three tonnes in weight, they move in agressive, noisy herds. They mainly browse on the upper reaches of the trees, but will also eat any manner of browse they please. They are typical in shape for a fair sized undaur, but have bony osteoderm spines along their back. Mainly non-destructive feeders, they do not create "highways" like larger high browsers.

Many bizzare and beautifull fruiting trees occur here, banannavines, grape-like trees, citrus, melon, and many yet to be fully described. The most impressive, only available to be eaten and germinated by larger dinosaurs is the Megomphalocarpum tree. *Megomphalocarpum aumalae* bears enormus, basketball sized fruit, with tough husk and starchy innnards fiiled with seed. The large hosers and undaurs can crush it with their enormous feet and powerfull jaws, and spread their many seeds.

Forest jackalopes (Casauriodes sp), (Antillobelua sp), are more stoutly built than plains dwellers, but can still clock impressive speeds. Varying mainly in color and size, most have a simple, casque like cranial crest. There are species similar in size and weight to a bongo down to ones that are closer in size to a duiker. They move in loosely aggregated, patriarchal family groups, preferring clearings and trails through the forest in which to feed on understory plants and low hanging branches.

A main predator of many suitably sized forest herbivores is the Leotard (Pardaloraptor pantherinus) a leopard sized, spotted nanoraptorid with immensely powerfull sickle claws on it's feet and hands. It will most often sit in a tree to ambush prey, but will also hide in shrubbery or around root buttresses. It subdues prey by bloodletting with it's immense claws, and, strangely, also has a powerfull bite for a dromeosaur.

Frequent prey for forest draks are hogbirds (Suinavis sp), (Afrosuinavis sp) which come in various species among the african jungle. Including small, turkey-sized varieties, and large, boar sized browsers, they are secretive, and eat almost anything. It has been found that they mainly feed on vegetation, but some will also catch spakas and other mammals, aswell as occasionally nest-raiding. The Greater jungle hogbird, (Choerornis silvester) is the best known, and browses mainly in areas of thick cover, but will also take any number of other, more protein rich foods. Glucks, however, preferr the open areas, and, appropriately, one species occurrs in the wabe.

The Congolese faunfowl (Therogallus tumnus) is the tallest of the forest oviraptorosaurs, at 3 meters high at the head, and 150 kilograms. Another such creature, *Therogallus nickodemus*, occurs in the european woods, but is very poorly known. With only two inner toes and long, dainty legs, it resembles a satyr or faun, as much as a dinosaur can. It's call is like that of a very beautiful flute, "u-dututUU-du-du-du" and a very staccato "Do-to-to-to-toooo-do-do-to-tootootooTOO" when frightened or retreating. It is a humble brown, and has shaggy feathers, like goat pelage, it carries it's single young in it's arms, and pairs for life.

As one proceeds even deeper, into higher altitude forests, the dinosaurian browsers and hunters become less in evidence, though still there, they are rarer here, and more secretive by nature. There are few unique dinosaurs here among the masses of low vegetation and epiphyte-covered rocky crags, but mammals, being more flexible in the spine and limbs, have a better time here. Typical megafrotheres, mostly undescribed relatives of the marso and sut, are found here in abundance. More apparent are long trunked drifters (Probipus longonasalis), a larger, more robust relative of the hoser highway drifter. Jungle-tree nearaxes (Parahyrax arborophilus) clamber through the branches in small groups, foraging for succulent browse, and are little bigger than rabbits. Gorillabird are common here, languishing in bowl-like "sets" and gorging on vegetation. Many gorillabirds also nest here, raising gridiron-ball-sized eggs, hatching into chicken sized, yellow-and-black striped chicks, contrasting to the adult's uniform black, with green skin and a green pearlescence to the feathers.

One recently discovered creature, a megafrothere, known as *Tapirocaprus dendrodigitus*, is very common around the vegetaion covered rocky crags. At 8 kilograms, and a height similar to a large dog, it's anatomy is a somewhat like a tall, slender-legged and limber version of the sut, it's proboscis is longer and more flexible, and it's tail is longer and much more bushy. It is most often observed traversing over the crags and mounds of vegetated rock, foraging and feeding on the most succulent browse, and other choice morsels, including insects, bees, and lizards.

Another, ground dwelling relative of the megafrotheres is the Ragger (Cavihyrax robustus), a ground dwelling nearax, about 12 kilograms in weight. They have enormous incisors and thick, bristly hide, they prefer to gnaw and chew on bark, branches and fruit, like a goat or spelk. They have robust spines in their bristly coat, and can resist the more agressive intentions of local carnivores by biting and clawing also, as their manual claws are 2 inch long and wickedly curved. They also avidly consume eggs and vertebrates when they can catch them.

Spakas, particularily the royal spaka, (Regitragulomys velocipes), are very comon throughout the jungle. In the rainforest, both lowland and highland, they quickly sprint between areas of cover, and are preyed upon by many carnivores.

Ambling amongst the particularily common colonies of giant-mound-bees (Theroapis giganteus), are the great brush-dogs. The bees are half again as large as bumblebees, and a gaudy red and black, though they seldom sting. They make a mound-like nest in the forks of trees, and are commonly eaten by insectivorous predators, and omnivores like the the brush-dog (Caninodeltatherus meliphagus). The Brush-dog, at around 10 kilograms, can eat most smaller prey with ease, and commonly feed on bees, their larvae, and honey.

Though the predatory draks and mattiraptors do occur here, the largest predatory dinosaur of appreciable size hunts in the highland rainforest also, and is a very ferocious vulgure. The Jabberwock (Carrologryphes giganteus), is a 300 kilogram vulgure, an indiscrimanate hunter that will ambush hogfowl, young gorillabird, and mammals, killing them mercilessly with it's hooked bill, and huge claws that catch. When not hunting, they patrol their teritorry, making a bizzare "burbling" noise, happening upon one, burbling as it goes, is a fearfull experience. Jabberwocks will stow their prey in their "home-tree" at the centre of it's territory. They will often sit next to this tree surveying for danger or intruders, as they chew the remains of their last kill.

The trees here are mainly Tumtum-trees (Carrolarbus sp), huge and gnarled, with low hanging vegetation. They are home to jubjub-birds (Arboronychides obtusus), arbos the size of clouded leopards, they prey mainly on mammals and large birds, alos occasionally lizards, which they tear with their sharp teeth and claws. Their plumage is usually a dull, brown-purple. Their distinctive mating call is usually described as sounding something like a melodious "ka-lou-kaleigh!".

Many aspects of the tulgey wood remain mysterious, every month, more small animals like birds, xenos, and lizards are discovered there. It will be a fabulous day when we fully understand this bizzare place, but one imagines it will not be soon before another astonishing discovery is made there.


More stuff:

CERVOCEPHALINAE (Forest jackalopes, Muntjackalopes, Rusabeluas)

This clade consists of the basal struthiodactylids, basically equivalent to the Asian deer species and african forest antelope in niche partitioning.

(under creation)

(fig. 3) Malayan muntjackalope, (Sauromuntjac malayanus) (southeast Asia, mostly Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar)

Here we see the Malayan muntjackalope (Sauromuntjac malayanus), a 1.5-metre-long browser of southeast Asian forests. Numerous species of *Sauromuntjac* can be found all over mainland Asia and the Indonesian archipelago, all of them similar in most respects except horn shape and colouration. This species is mainly mottled red-brown and dark green, with black bands on its tail. Most species make a deep groan to proclaim their territory.

(under creation)

(fig. 4) Two-horned rusabelua, (Rusabelua duocornis) (mainland southern Asia)

This is the two-horned rusalope (Rusabelua duocornis) found over most of mainland southern Asia, in marshland, scrub, woodland and rainforest. Like all members of *Rusabelua*(numerous species over mainland southern Asia and the Indonesian archipelago) it can run very fast through the forest undergrowth. At 3.5 m in length, this species fits in the upper level of the size range for rusabeluas; the smallest, the five-horned Indian rusabelua (Rusabelua indicus), is only 2 m long, and the largest, the Bornean rusa-beast (Rusacephalus borneensis), gets to a length of 4 m. The species shown here is most often a lime green on top, speckled with red-brown, with a yellow-white underbelly. The rusalopes make a beautiful trilling whistle that is a comfort in the hostile environment of Indonesia's jungle.

(under creation)

(fig. 5) Red duke, Parantilodactylus agilis (African dry forests)

The 1 m long red duke (Casauriodes agilis) is a common sight in the dry forests of Africa. Being a browser, it is quite common, and can get up to a good clip as it runs through the scrub. Other species are found all over Africa; for example, the 1.5 m blackback duke (Casauriodes nigrodorsum) is a denizen of the Congo rainforest, as is the spotted duke (Casauriodes pardalis), which is only 1 m in length. Most species of *Casauriodes* have white skin on their undersides. The 2 m long savanna duikerlope (Casauriodes bicolor), coloured a handsome gold colour with a white underbelly, is an exception to the rule. It is a small grazer that is very common on the east African savannas. Most varieties make a doglike high-pitched bark.

(under creation)

(fig. 6) Bristlehorn scrub-jackalope, (Nanocasauriodes ornatus) (Africa: Sahel zone)
The bristlehorn scrub-jackalope (Nanocasauriodes ornatus) is a member of a clade of denizens of thorn-scrub savanna. They possess brightly coloured faces and branching single horns. Only the weight of a large rabbit, the bristlehorn scrub-jackalope is a small browser common in the Sahel. It makes a piping trill when agitated or proclaiming territory.

(under creation)

(fig. 7) Loper, (Antillobelua saurotigris) (Congo rainforest)

The 3 m long Loper (Antilobelua saurotigris) is an elusive browser of the Congo rainforest, most commonly seen on "hoser" highways and in other clearings at dawn and dusk, feeding on soft herbage and leaves. A stunning emerald green with striking maroon spots and stripes, it blends in perfectly with the jungle undergrowth. It makes a startling barking grunt as it forages.




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