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, May 11, 2006


Eulycosuchidae: Crocvars, Crocdogs, Crocwolves.

This group originates in Australia, the earliest fossils from members of this group have been found in the Miocene of Riversleigh. Even early in their geological history, they exhibit trademark features of the group, long legs, reduced dermal armour, and tall, theropod-like snouts.

The Crocvars (Varanosuchus Sp, Choolainia Sp), including the Laced Crocvar (Varanosuchus robustus) take the role of some larger monitors in Australaisia and the Indonesian archipelago. They are adaptable and comparatively quick-witted, being found in most ecosystems, they can run quickly over short distances, and retain the ability to swim well. They exhibit territorial behavior mainly when breeding, or when prey is scarce, they fight mainly by biting eachother, though not usually hard enough to make serious damage.

They have an erect stance, a lightly built torso, a long, balancing tail, their legs are long and muscular, though not as long as those of other Eulycosuchids, they also posess strong, curved claws on the digits, except the outer two on the forelimbs. Crocvars are generally between 1.5 and 2.5 meters long, weigh up to 7 kilograms, and prey mainly on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and occasionally fish and eggs. The coloration of most species is subdued, usually brown or grey with darker stripes, spots and blotches. Crocvars very frequently climb trees, and can often be seen clambering through the banches. Their mating call is unique, being a tinny, high-pitched "Chik-Chik", earning them their colloquial name, tin-crocs.

Crocdogs (Cynosuchus sp) appear strange at first sight. With long, strong cursorial legs, and compact, paw like feet, there's more than a vague passing resemblance to a canid like a dog or jackal. However, these beasts are very much reptillian, with scaly hides, long tails, and strong jaws filled with pointed teeth. These beasts can be found in most Australasian habitats, from dense rainforest to open savannah and desert, though they are far less common than some cedunasaur species.

They feed mainly on vertebrates such as birds, reptiles, mammals and non-avian dinosaurs, they have been observed eating giant earthworms and freshwater crayfish. Due to their lower metabolism compared to endotherms like mammals, dinosaurs and birds, crocdogs eat less for their bodyweight, they also have a higher rate of reproduction, larger clutch size, and slower growth rate, these factors allow crocdogs to coexist with theropods like warriguls and puffindingos. In the mating season, they can be fiercely territorial, males often lock jaws and try to topple one another in a feat of strength, but serious injury rarely occurs from such tussles.

The most common species, the Choo's Crocdog (Cynosuchus chooi), averages at 3.5 meters long, and usually weighs up to 25 Kilograms. This species has a range over most of the australian continent, and even ranges as far south as the Flinders ranges. It is coloured a dirty olive brown, with darker blotches and spots over the body, ranging down to stripes and bands along the hips and tail. They are famous for the occasional habit of climbing and resting in trees, which has resulted in many a tall story by over zealous spexplorers. Like most members of the family,they can attain an impressive speed, but cannot sustain it for very long, as such they mainly hunt by ambush.

The crocwolf (Eulycosuchus ferox) is the most agressive and infamous of the "crocdog" group. Found mainly on the lesser Sundas and Sumatra, it was a surprise, to say the least, for early spexplorers to come across such a beast, in an area where dinosaurs were said to be the dominant group. At 4.5 meters long, and commonly weighing in at 45 kilograms, it strikes an imposing figure. It has a fairly typical Eulycosuchid bodyplan, and likewise a fairly typical predatory lifestyle, but is more heavily built, it's colouring is usually a brown-grey, with dark markings that fade as the beast matures. Despite early assumptions that the animal made no sound, it was later found that the beast made hatchling-like squeaks during mating rituals and at other rare intervals.

Strangely, crocwolves pair for life, but disputes over females can be brutal. The males will begin by defecating and pawing frantiaclly at the ground, the two antagonists will then strut from side to side, sizing eachother up. the next phase of the ritual involves the males rearing on their hindlegs and "boxing" like rutting kangaroos, if a stronger male prevails here the fighting will peter off. However, if the initial bout is evenly matched, all hell breaks loose, males will often try to bite eachother's limbs or tail-tips off, or grab a leg and topple the opponent. Consequently, it is relatively common top see older male crocwolves covered in battle scars, even occasionally missing hands or tail tips. This observation lead to the most remarkable discovery about these creatures, that a member of the pair will often obtain food for their mate if they are impeded by injury. Members of a mated pair tend to hunt alone if both are in good shape, but a mated pair hunting together is a force to be reckoned with. Their most common prey are hogfowl and ornithopods, but smaller animals like gamebirds and lizards often feature in their diet also, like most members of the family they hunt primarily by ambush.



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