Tuesday 2 January 2024


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While Ryl Madol teems with creatures that are extinct anywhere else in the world, dinosaurs (and really anything else past the Palaeozoic) are sadly absent. In their stead have evolved other, stranger creatures. Among them are the lycaenoraptors, of which Gorgoraptor is a member. Though bipedal and digitgrade like theropods, the saberteeth and faint hairs along the back show that these are in fact some kind of therapsid, descending from the likes of gorgonopsians, therocephalians or perhaps even cynodonts. 

Using their great sense of smell and decent eyesight, these small-to-medium-sized predators opportunistically stalk the forest undergrowth in search for prey. While its smaller relatives live in packs, Gorgoraptor often hunts alone. When it captures prey like lodosaurs, it pins them down with its powerful legs and arms and deals the killing blow by severing their windpipe with its characteristic saberteeth. It itself can fall prey to the much larger Carptophoneus, the anteosaurid(?) "tiger" of the island, and of course the titanic Decarnodon, an anamniote reptiliomorph that could give even large theropods like T. rex a run for their money.

As, unlike true mammals, these synapsids still have full colour-vision like other amniotes, they can often be found with striking patterns and colour schemes. Apart from charismatic stripes, the mane along the neck and back can also shine in bright colours. Perhaps, long ago in the distant past, this is how hair first got its start, not as a means of insulation but as a display feature.

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Monday 1 January 2024


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In the tropical jungle of Ryl Madol, perhaps the same home as that of Eurhinocaulus, a strange fellow can be encountered. A biped, both feather- and furless. But, contra Plato, it is not man, nor even really mammal.

Although now heavily altered and resembling more a dryosaur-type dinosaur than anything else, the two small tusks growing behind the beak still give away the true ancestry of this Paleozoic survivor. It is a dicynodont therapsid which has learned to walk on two almost humanoid legs. With these, as well as its horizontal pupils, it is well-equipped to evade the predators which may lurk among the giant horsetails and zosterophyl-flora. Yet, these little herbivores still tend to fall prey to the likes of lycaenoraptors and aistoboids. 

But those are a story for another time.

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