Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Birds of a Feather—The Cuckoo in the Nest

BIRDS OF A FEATHER—THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST
Monthly Perch for Insecure Writers & Others of that Ilk

Subterranean Samhain monster in partially submerged Oligocene strata, Antipaxos, Ionian Sea

Our current cultural vision may seem similar to that strange bird, the cuckoo—medieval cuckold comes to mind ❤ —who 'invades' a functioning bird family, usurping the nest, flinging his fellow flightless companions to their deaths and running adoptive mother (meadow pippet) ragged, while he—oversize and undernourished—tumbles overspilling—into first flight.

To divert us ISWGers from our tendency to dwell on our failings, forget that we are capable of greatness, I devised a strategy of timewarp which should please our Ninja Cap'n Alex—time travel.

Only on this occasion, we're doing it in reverse.
Let's go back. Way back. Buckle up. You might discover something new on the ancestral (animal) path.

If you’re pouncing broadly into Jurassic Park time, Jurassic World even, that’s mezozoic: 199.6million-145million years ago, a little early. Imagine beyond Tyranosaurus Rex, post-pterodactyl, after Smilodon

Jurassic Ancestors Die off after Global Cooling

The Oligocene Epoch, when our Ionian Ogre, top, appeared, came right in the middle of the Tertiary Period—at end of the Paleogene—approx. 33.9 million-23 million years ago. Although it lasted a ‘short’ 11 million years, a number of major changes happened at that time. Changes caused by global cooling include appearance of the first elephants with trunks, early horses, and an explosion of many grasses that fostered a habitat for a sudden influx of new quadrupeds.

As a result of cooling temperatures, life and habitat of many ocean organisms were directly affected. Marine eco-environments fragmented as sea creatures able to withstand cooler temperatures migrated to places further from warm equatorial current. This suddenly reduced diversity in marine plankton—foundation of the food chain.

Nocturnal raptors had an easier time in the Oligocene until daytime hawks & eagles joined in

On land, mammals like horses, deer/elk, camel, elephants, cats, dogs, rats and primates began to dominate—except in Australia.

In Western Europe there were 17 generic extinctions, 20 first appearances, and 25 mammal survivals. As the land fauna migration route between Asia and North America dispersed lineages of cattle, pig, giraffe, and camel to new continents, South American forest and pampas flourished. Apes developed both in the Amazon and in Africa simultaneously, but Africa alone created the first hominids. North America spawned the rat, his cousin the gopher and many lesser mouse companions.

Fossil Hyaenodon from White River, South Dakota, coyote ancestor found in Badlands National Park

The first feathered bird appeared with a beak that was mobile enough to catch insects—presumably our friend the pterodactyl couldn’t. The first deciduous broadleaves [oak, ash, hazel] started to infiltrate the previously dominant redwood (northern) rainforest.

Conifers were also losing ground to developing grasslands—spreading from Mongolia via the land bridge to American prairies and the Midwest—perfect habitat for newer, speedier grazing mammals. Buffalo, cattle, boar-pig—with supporting cast of voles and hamsters.

In the southern pampas, camel and giraffe diversified to become llama and alpaca. Tropical rainforest found refuge in equatorial Amazonia and Indonesia.

Primeval Beaver and Wiley Coyote

Racoon ancestral selfie

Daylight raptors, like falcons, eagles, and hawks, along with 7-10 families of rodents, first appeared proliferating new northern forests, strengthening along with the grain.

The ancestor of the American beaver built his first dam.

Burgeoning meadow grasses made for rapid and diverse genetic growth in horses, developing both in size and speed capability. Ancestor of the Mustang started here.

I liked the logic of the Aleutian land bridge being used by intelligent—and high-energy new creatures—along with their predators—in a competitive novel environment, bringing new lifeforms and muscle power to the New World. The present Kentucky racehorse may be the pinnacle of that growth curve.

Forgive my digression. I had to think laterally. The news is otherwise too distracting. For a writer, that is. NaNoWriMo is also in progress and I’m ‘resting’ this year 😉
Thanks to the Ancestors—fish and fowl, feline and four-pawed.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

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November 7, 2018 - Posted by | authors, birds, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, history, nature, novel, publishing, trees, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I’m not officially participating in NaNo either.
    We had to go and bring the rat into the world…

    Comment by Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh) | November 7, 2018 | Reply

    • Thanks Alex—UR unbeatable 😉 —renowned @StephenKing 4bids us 2say the word #amazing, it’s #overused. I doubt that will stop yr November creativity in guitar & rat production lol

      Comment by siderealview | November 8, 2018 | Reply


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