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The Long Game

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Daftpanzer, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer There may be more posts after this.

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    Epoch 6



    This era saw the formation of a true supercontinent and another great interchange of species, followed by a range of minor extinction events and climate chaos.

    The continent of Otope crashed into the western side of Nessmodia, forming what is now known as the supercontinent of Nesotia - the first supercontinent to have formed since complex life began, excluding only the land mass of Panzerna. Otope brought with it a new range of giant lizards, pseduo-crocodilians and dinosaurs to add to the increasingly-tangled web of life on the great continent.

    Meanwhile, the climate fluctuated rapidly (in geologic terms) as opposing forces for global warming and cooling struggled against each other. A new volcanic upheaval in the south-west corner of former Otope (now the western tip of the supercontinent) added bursts of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, but much of this was soon locked up in chemical reactions with newly-exposed crustal rock; continental collisions and tectonic tugs-of-war continued to spawn huge new mountain ranges, which had a cooling effect on the air that flowed over them, and frequently supported glaciers, even at the poles. As the continents jostled together, there were changes in global circulation patterns of both air and water, bringing both warmer and cooler periods. Then, about half way through this era, a significant impact event occurred in the frozen northwest expanse of what was then Nessmodia; although much of the energy of the impact was absorbed by the thick glacier, a significant amount of dust was thrown up into the atmosphere...

    During this climate chaos, as early land-bridges to Otope were formed and lost again, there were waves of invasions by Otopian fauna into the dry, equatorial desert of the great continent, which was ideal habitat for many of these species; the large arachnids soon fell into second place, as they were overtaken by tough, fast, and increasingly intelligent bipedal dinosaurs as primary hunters of the dry plains. An assortment of other giant lizard-like creatures from Otope managed to oust many niches from land trilobites and other arthropods; the survivors were mostly small, humble creatures, many of them becoming nocturnal.

    Bipedal dinosaurs, giant lizards and an assortment of snake-like creatures spread into the fragmented rainforests of former Imperia, adding to the pressure local species were already under. Along the way, bipedal dinosaurs were steadily diversifying and growing in size. Others were also getting smaller; a clade of feathered, tree-climbing, gliding dinosaurs also appeared during this era, focused on the sheltered forests of the moddier region, though it - along with gliding mammals - remained hunted by predatory pterosaurs.

    However, Otope itself was soon colonised by many species from Nessmodia; the kangaroo-lizards, though of a younger and somewhat more primitive branch of tetrapods compared to the dinosaurs, found a niche as efficient long-distance trekkers across the dry plains, replacing several native lizard species in Otope. They had also evolved many features in parallel to both dinosaurs and mammals - higher metabolism and strong brooding behaviour, though with the critical adaptation of parental pouches found in the males of several species, allowing groups to stay on the move.

    Eusocial arachnids and trilobites also managed to colonise new western territory; the hives of the eusocial arachnids now match the spires of the hive-building trilobites, with dedicated food stores and brooding chambers; some species had also learnt to build their hives in the middle of ponds and lakes - with waterproof silk-lined walls - for added protection.

    The new mountain ranges were also prime habitat for several kinds of mammals and land squid...

    Mammals continued to evolve and diversify, mainly in the northern latitudes where their adaptations to the cold were most useful. However, mammals were adversely affected by the large impact event that occured in the north west - a small comet fragment that nonetheless melted or vaporised a large expanse of glacier, as well as depositing its own mass of water; this ultimately caused a gigantic mud-slide that carved trails of destruction across the northern continent on its way to the sea, permanently altering the landscape. Mammals were ultimately able to bounce back, but cold-adapted species of land squid, feathered dinosaurs and even kangaroo-lizards were able to get a foothold in the northern plains in the aftermath.

    Terrestrial squid species were meanwhile shrinking under these combined assaults of climate and competition. Fragmenting rain forests deprived them of vital habitat, and a new clade of streamlined, social, intelligent pterosaurs appeared in this era that ultimately reduced flying squid to a few niche groups; since the appearance of pterosaurs, flying squid had never been able to make the breakthrough to powerful long-distance flight and could not compete for most niches.

    The most successful of the air-breathing squid during this era were large, social, elephant-sized forms, some bristling with feather-like growths. Though slow, they were big and tough enough to withstand both predators and extremes of temperature, and could trek long distances between watering holes and food sources. These land squid were still tied to suitable nesting grounds, such as caves, but were otherwise very widespread, and showed increasing signs of intelligence, such as basic tool use, and had a variety of vocalisations with which to communicate.

    It was a somewhat similar story with the velvet worm clade. A radical new clade of velvet worms, with the most powerful crushing jaws of any animal, thrived for a time as large scavengers and ambush hunters, reaching sizes of up to 10 metres long - but did not survive the turmoil of this era. Smaller species did survive and thrive however, led by the social ‘purple worm’ clade; the evolution tiny hair-like growths had a dual effect of adding insulation while increasing the grip of their appendages, allowing them to climb sheer surfaces with ease. With specialisation into heat and sound detection over other senses, they found their main niche as raiders of other species’ nests, including group attacks on the eusocial arachnids, as well as cave-dwellers; for the first time the clade has spread far beyond the rainforest of the south-east.



    Mammals, however, were arguably the greatest winners on land overall. Their versatility, and the key mobility advantage of live birth, meant they were now to be found all across the great continent, even if only in the form of burrowing rodents. Sea-going mammals were slowly evolving on the sheltered fjords of Moddier, and there were several small species that made use of skin flaps for gliding between trees or cliff faces. However, mammals of all kinds also tended to need more food than other animals of equivalent size; for sheer body size and growth rates, dinosaurs and land squid now had the evolutionary advantage.

    But if counting flying creatures, pterosaurs were undoubtedly the overall winners; this branch of life had now diversified into many forms and niches, both over water and land, and some had returned to flightless habits on islands and land masses that lacked large animals. Though tied to nesting sites, some species offered mutual defence by breeding en-mass in huge colonies. Unmatched mobility meant they could move with the seasons and changing weather patterns, and an increasing trend for intelligence among certain branches of pterosaurs only made them more versatile.

    Meanwhile, the fluctuations in climate and the fragmentation of old forests allowed primitive flowering plants to spread and diversify. During this era they evolved mutualistic relationships with many species of insect and small animal, though for now they remained in the undergrowths, in the literal shadow of seed-fern group and the ginkos.

    By the end of this era, a circle of mountains had created the driest desert yet encountered by animals - known as the Nessan, occupying the heart of former Nessaria, also victim to wild extremes of temperature. Here it was almost too harsh for any animal to survive permanently, apart from a few small niche species of lizard and insects. The boundaries of the most extreme desert were marked by growths of strange, cactus-like plants which were distant relatives of ancient ferns; some took the form of tumbleweeds, while others had atrophied fronds which remained as tightly packed bundles. Dinosaurs, kangaroo-lizards and sometimes a few hardy mammals patrolled between water holes, while vulture-like pterosaurs circled high overhead.

    Scenes like this were becoming more common, as swollen land masses and changes in weather circulation meant a global drying trend was continuing. Large stretches of ancient Nessmodian forests in particular had already been overcome by dust and sand, speckled with petrified tree stumps. Diverse new species of hardy pine-like trees took over in many alpine and semi-desert areas, being better adapted to both cold and dryness; in the fertile valleys of Moddier, some of these reached giant redwood proportions and served as roots for pterosaurs, gliding mammals and proto-birds.

    The rich volcanic Aelian islands remained strongholds of colourful amphibious trilobites and trilobite-turtles, though the food chain was usually ruled by unique species derived from pterosaur and plesiosaur invaders. The same was true in the landmasses of Panzerna, which had been especially swolen by falling sea levels; its plains and forests remained free of true mammals and dinosaurs, but invaders had killed off most of the large native trilobites. Giant flightless pterosaurs were now to be found in some places, including penguin-like forms that competed on even terms with plesiosaurs for local fishing grounds.

    The oceans suffered comparatively less from the changes in climate, but changes in ocean circulation patterns did cause some drastic changes. The new supercontinent and accompanying low sea levels had already devastated coastal biomes; population and diversity of many kinds of species was still very low compared to previous eras. The Aeilian archipelago was a key stronghold of tropical reef-building species.

    The typical food chain of the open ocean was a base of plankton-eating fish, fed upon by swarms of ‘simple’ squid, preyed upon by plesiosaurs, diving pterosaurs, and sharks. The waters off of the Moddier and Panzerna regions were particularly rich, aided by confluences of ocean currents, and these waters saw some monstrously large, long-necked plesiosaurs evolve - largest animals ever to have evolved up to this point.

    Beneath these giants, on the sea bed, relatively-small cephalopods were thriving in a different way - using their remarkable intelligence and flexible appendages to use tools, construct elaborate nests, and deliberately cultivate certain sea plants and invertebrates for food. Some even used the heat of volcanic vents to cook otherwise-inedible food items. By the end of this era there was a spectrum of intelligent cephalopod species spread across the more fertile parts of the ocean floor - each with different social structures, different breeding strategies, different specialisations and different ways of communicating (including dramatic patterns from their chromatophores). Some of these species could co-exist, while others waged war on each other; a powerful biting beak, hidden behind their appendages, was a weapon common to all these cephalopods, though others used weapons such as spines grabbed from other sea creatures.

    These intelligent cephalopods had the highest brain-size ratio of any animals, though this came at a cost of requiring more than the equivalent amount of food; thus much of their intelligence was put into accessing new food sources in seemingly never-ending cycle. The oceans also remained dangerous for these creatures, who remained perfectly vulnerable if caught in the open by sharks or plesiosaurs, or even larger species of predatory fish, though again this added to the payoffs from working as a team.

    With the formation of Nesiota, the continental plates are continuing to jostle together - former Otope is coming apart along a deep fault line, opening new freshwater lakes, while the entire Nesiota assembly is now slowly rotating, pushing the Moddier region up towards the north pole. Panzerna is now moving north at a relatively fast rate, looking first to collide with the Ailean islands before eventually merging into the supercontinent if its current course holds.

    A slight warming trend has finally won out, and ice has retreated in both the north and south, though the climate remains cool and dry as this era draws to a close.

    Spoiler World Map :


     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  2. Danwar

    Danwar Warlord

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    Alongside the Cephalopods in the oceans, the Pterosaurs have begun to make moves towards something resembling 'societies'. The development of opposable thumbs is the pinnacle of this development, allowing a lucky few species to develop the ability to use tools. (1 point to opposable thumbs.)

    Meanwhile, the Pterosaurs continue to develop larger brains, allowing them to perhaps use their recently-developed thumbs to actually develop the concept of tools themselves. (1 point into brain growth)
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  3. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Hey, @Daftpanzer , I think you skipped my order set.
     
  4. TheGryphonPrince

    TheGryphonPrince King

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    In order to gain more versatility and help from increased numbers thanks to each individual needing less food to survive, a branch of intelligent Pterosaurs is starting to shrink in size (1 point), but even as they shrink, the brain-to-body ratio keeps increasing, which allows for more complex social interactions and makes finding prey more easy (another point)
     
  5. Ailedhoo

    Ailedhoo wonderer

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    1) conduct a oceanic volcanic eruption in the areas south of Panzerna.

    2) there occurs a tremor in between the bay of Imperia and the little isle on the north-west side of Panzerna, causing a tsunami
     
  6. filli_noctus

    filli_noctus Hmmn

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    1. A clade of arachnids develops specialised anchor points on their legs allowing them to spin silken wings, allowing them to take to the air to hunt for prey.

    2. Over the course of millenia a rogue asteroid makes a number of close passes that bring the planet's orbit marginally closer to the star, causing warming. Eventually the kinetic energy transfer causes the asteroid's orbit to decay enough that it falls into the sun.
     
  7. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    1 Intelligent underwater squids now cultivate certain molluscs for their shells, growing them into shapes prone to tool-ish shapes, developing primitive yet true tool use.
    (hope it's not too long of a jump)

    2 A tiny subspecies of land squids now don't lay their eggs, but hatch them in a sack inside their bodies, sprouting a few dozen offspring as live birth.
     
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  8. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    1) Some families of Mammals independently develop more complex brains, pushed by the development of, depending on the family, more sensitive sensory agents, or more complex manipulators. This greater cognitive complexity helps for sociability, too, spurring the development of primitive empathic abilities. These groups of mammals likely out-compete other types of both mammals and other clades.

    2) Flowering plants continue to expand, diversify, and spread. Of particular note is the Luxsplendida family, which is unique in that every species in the family has developed bioluminescent petals, and bloom at night. The Petals shine in specific and unique patterns, attracting all manners of pollinators. The fruit themselves also glow when ripe, attracting species of "bats" and flying squids to eat and spread their seeds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  9. Alguerath

    Alguerath Chieftain

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    Arachnids have begun dividing in castes, these castes are assigned according to age and size, Arachnids are moved from one caste to another as it ages, some are breeders, others hunters, webspinners and so forth.

    Some Arachnid species have been developing improved cognitive capabilities.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  10. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

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    Undersea Cephalopod Evolution: Longevity and Social Teaching- IE: the "Great Old Ones"
    Cephalopods longevity increases substantially during this era. Cephalopods are indeterminate growers (like many species of modern fish, many amphibians and even some mammals like kangaroos) that continue to grow and grow throughout their lives. As invertebrates, they are not limited by skeleton-muscle ratios and so as longevity increases so too does size. While earlier species tended to die of old age after 3-4 years, modern species grow to 100+ years in very extreme cases.
    These 'great old ones' serve in some cephalopod groups as almost primitive 'elders/teachers', sharing migratory patterns, agricultural and hunting techniques, nesting techniques, etc for younger generations in the way that serves as a pinnacle for social teaching (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_learning_in_animals#Teaching).

    Undersea Plant Evolution: Domesticated Food Species
    As a result of the deliberate cultivation of certain sea plants by increasingly sophisticated cephalopod species, many favored plants are selected for in a way reminiscent of the fertile crescent grains of OTL. Undersea versions of bottle gourds, nutritive-selected kelp and undersea tuber species, even domesticated versions of 'floating kelp' are selected for and preferentially grown, enriching for taste, productivity, and ease of cultivation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  11. Radagandruman

    Radagandruman Chieftain

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    Alright this looks fun.

    Ok then, firstly some varieties of land squid have begun to communicate in more complex ways, using assorted noises to convey primitive messages. These messages mostly involve either danger or the presence of food, but they show potential.

    This increase in communication has allowed these species of land squid to further develop their social structures, leading to an almost eusocial arrangement. The basic tool use they have developed has enabled specialized castes, with different squid serving as scouts to help locate food, protectors to deter predators, and breeders, to name a few.
     
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  12. Everblack

    Everblack Blacker then you

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    Evolve group (social ‘purple worm) Advance species communicability (roles): New roles have begun to surface among the purple worms with strong Females have become leaders/warriors/etc while males have been given roles of caretakers/workers

    Evolve group (social ‘purple worm) primitive mushroom cultivation: The males species of (social ‘purple worm) have started taking fungi with bioluminescent growths from the surface and bring it under ground to create another food source for the purple worms.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  13. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    Increase Terrasquid Intelligence: The various types of terrasquid [land squid] spurred by changes in the environment, developments in sociality, and increased competition evolve increased intelligence and neural complexity. In some forms [particularly smaller forms] this manifests as increased adaptability to changes and environmental pressures, be it through tool use or behavioural changes. In others [particularly the larger species] higher level thinking, memory and problem solving evolves.

    Increase Warmth Modifier: The world continues to warm, due to increase solar output and geological emissions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  14. Marcher Jovian

    Marcher Jovian Emperor

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    1. Accelerate Panzerna’s drift North.
    2. Long-term orbital movements have the warming trend subside, and a slight cooling trend take it’s place.
     
  15. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

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    1. Constant volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts cause general cooling trends to continue.

    2. Cooling trend intensify.
     
  16. jackelgull

    jackelgull An aberration of nature

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    Keep Panzernia from becoming a part of the supercontinent, have it drift away. Let hundreds of millions of years of isolation keep it's wildlife and biodiversity unique
     
  17. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer There may be more posts after this.

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    Thank you guys. I'm starting work on the update, so any more orders please send ASAP!

    EDIT: just FYI, I'm not going to mess with the orbit of the planet. I will however roll a dice on these two points to see if they spawn disasters or just climate changes :D
     
  18. erez87

    erez87 Lord of Random

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    1 colder planet. The sun is going through a strange dimming phase
    2 colder planet. The dimming allows for glaciers to form in places they didn’t before, locking up water from their heating property in the atmosphere and increasing reflection to make cooling more and more.

    The idea: it’s cold outside, it’s warm underground. Other creatures better come to our fold!
     
  19. tobiisagoodboy

    tobiisagoodboy Prince

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    1. Lizard Kangeroos continue to develope their social behaivor, with specialized roles in the group, like Sentrys, Gatherer and Hatchling guardians.

    2. The Lizard Kangeroos intelligence slowly increases, so they are able to use the most primitive tools like stones and sticks, maybe they even, by some accident find the secret of fire.
     
  20. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer There may be more posts after this.

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    Epoch 7



    The supercontinent of Nesiota grows even larger, as it connects to part of the Panzerna islands. Changes in ocean currents make the climate slightly wetter, but also significantly colder, aided by the ash ejected from volcanoes in south Panzerna, and ongoing mountain-building as continental plates jostle together. The planet now sees another extreme of cold climates, with a mighty ice sheet descending from the north pole, soon completely covering the Moddier region as the supercontinent pivots and drags this area northwards. However, this is a world of extremes, as new land masses appear near the equator, providing new habitat for tropical species. These upheavals bring significant extinctions, but also new opportunities for some branches of life...

    The growth of glaciers has a positive feedback effect; every time there is a harsh volcanic winter, the ice advances, but it remains when the ash clears; ongoing erosion of the mountains, along with the growth of new tropical forests in Panzera, both serve to lock up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and prevent any greenhouse effect from tipping the balance back towards global warming. During winter, cold winds often blow deep into the tropical regions.

    Various kinds of mammals, birds (evolving from old Otopian dinosaurids), pseudo-feathered land squid, and ‘wooly’ cold-adapted Pterosaurs were some of the big winners in this new icy era, being able to increase in number as competitors were forced into a narrow band around the equator. Bipedal dinosaurs, giant lizards, crocodilians and other Otpian fauna, after a brief period of thriving, were soon in decline; most of the giant lizards were extinct by the end of this epoch. Dinosaurs, meanwhile, were also going extinct - they have become dangerously specialised as fast-running hunters in open terrain and warmer climates, and now have severe competition from all sides, including the air. The whole family of terrestrial trilobites, including ancient lineages as well as the more modern eusocial hive-builders, were also in steep decline throughout this era.

    The old Nessperian lineage of kangaroo-lizards had a brief period of thriving at the start of this era, some becoming more intelligent and beginning to use tools with their front limbs. This evolution was cut short however; their relative vulnerability to the cold meant they ultimately yielded ground to rival species in both north and south. The only survivors were somewhat smaller and less-intelligent species, having a meerkat-like social structure with individuals taking turns between sentry duty, foraging and guarding youngsters; these species continue to roam the dry tropical plains in smaller groups and reverting to a foraging lifestyle; their main niche being their tolerance of dry conditions and their highly energy-efficient hopping mode of locomotion, enabling them to out-compete similar dinosaur species.

    By this point, mammals had diversified into many forms, from burrowing nocturnal rodents to boar-like, bear-like species - some rather ferocious and perfectly capable of defending themselves against any attackers - to elegant gliding squirrel-like forms, and amphibious otter-like species roaming the north-west shorelines of Nesiota. A new clade of social, intelligent, racoon-like species also came to prominence, with a pair of dexterous grasping hands, capable of using tools to get at new food sources; these creatures thrived especially in temperate forests and lower mountain slopes.

    However, by far the most successful clade of mammals during this era were humble, wooly gazelle-like creatures - relatively unintelligent herbivores, but well-adapted to extremes of temperature, and as they gave birth to well-developed young, nourished with milk glands from their mothers, they were able to stay highly mobile - able to migrate with the seasons and follow rainfall to best grazing grounds. Only the fastest of dinosaurs and the largest of pterosaur predators were able to catch them on the run. Huge herds of these creatures began to roam the continental plains of Altica, Otope and southern Nessan; by the end of this era they were diversifying into larger, buffalo-sized creatures that were able to stand their ground against predators rather than fleeing.

    The herds of gazelle-like creatures rubbed shoulders with large terrestrial cephalopods - the laws of thermodynamics favoured larger and rounder body sizes, leading to a sharp divide between agile, climbing species and much larger, slower, herbivorous, mammoth-sized forms; these ‘mammoth squid’ now patrol between fertile areas in all climates, where they can gorge on food before moving on. Evolving to be increasingly intelligent and versatile, their trunk arms let them use basic tools as well as reach vegetation high above ground that other species cannot, and adults can stock up on food to last through winters, or while nesting and raising young. By the end of this era they have evolved to give birth to live young, and a coating of dense feather-like growths, especially among the youngsters, also aids these creatures in surviving extreme cold.

    Many older branches of the velvet worm family went extinct at this time, but social varieties saw a revival in tropical forest; new kinds of eusocial velvet worms, with dedicated ‘warriors’ and ‘workers’, either colonised caves or built elaborate tunnel systems, and began to cultivate various kinds of edible fungus using plant material harvested from the surface, a tactic that was very successful - these eusocial velvet worms also fought with and largely destroyed rival hive-building trilobite species in the process. Arachnids proved more of a challenge, but the social arachnids tended to build nests in trees and other high places, reducing competition. Even in drier and colder regions, some larger solitary species of velvet worm continued to thrive as ambush hunters, armed with venomous fangs to quickly subdue their prey.



    Meanwhile, the old forests of Imperia and Panzerna regions saw much disruption; there were frequent, massive tsunami events from underwater earthquakes as Panzerna nudged ever closer towards Nesiota - diverting warm, rain-bearing equatorial currents away from the continent in the process. This, combined with the cooling climate and fresh outbreaks of volcanism in south edges of the Panzerna plate, caused the old rainforest of Imperia to fragment, and almost completely disappear.

    Panzerna offered a lifeline to tropical species, however; as it settled over the equator, new tropical forests were able to grow on the islands, benefitting from warmth and - crucially - the abundant rainfall from the ocean. This new tropical forest was also more mixed than before, with a significant ratio of flowering plants, some now growing to the size of trees in their own right. Ancient, native cold-adapted plants retreated to the cooler reaches of the upper mountain slopes. Even before the western portion connected with the mainland, flying squid and various amphibians were able to start colonising this new land.

    Climbing and flying squid in particular had new renaissance as they expanded to the western parts of Panzerna. Many old lineages of terrestrial squid from Imperia are now extinct, but new kinds of climbing squid evolved from flying cousins - abandoning flight in order to grow bigger and tougher - now form gregarious social groups, swinging through the canopy and building shelters for themselves amongst the branches. Evolving in parallel with their larger mammoth-sized cousins, these species have also evolved feathery growths for social display and the ability to give birth to live young.

    These new climbing squid competed with a new clade of especially intelligent, social and tool-using Pterosaurs that also made their home in the new tropical islands. Often brightly coloured, somewhat parrot-like, they often competed for the same niches as the climbing squid. By the end of the era, the stronger and tougher squid species had won the battle in western Panzerna, but the parrot-like pterosaurs had meanwhile colonised many other islands where they were able to thrive in relative peace, hunted only by larger carnivorous pterosaur cousins; they learned to manipulate objects with both their sensitive snout as well as flexible digits on the joint of their wings. Nests evolved in complexity, becoming increasingly house-like, with some species creating large shared structures in the treetops with dedicated food stores and brooding areas.

    With a variety of Pterosaurs continuing to rule the daytime skies, the most successful flying squid are now specialists in flying at dusk and dawn, with powerful low-light vision and even echolocation in some cases; they are equally at home roosting in trees or in caves, and by the end of this era had been able to colonise all habitable parts of Panzerna, as well as expanding into the Ailean islands for the first time, as continental drift brought these islands within reach of their short-duration flight. Some of these species are co-evolving with emerging flowering plants, becoming pollinators in exchange for the equivalent of fruit and nectar; the most spectacular example of these have bioluminescent flowers, which appear dull and drab in daylight, but glow in faint blues and greens by night; their flying squid pollinators have eyes specially adapted to look for these colours.

    The new rainforest of western Panzerna was also invaded by a host of other species from Nesiota as a land bridge took shape - various frog-lizards, racoon-like mammals, social velvet worms, Otopian lizards, crocodillans, snakes and arachnids all made an appearance. Arachnids were a particular success story; some with well-developed eusocial lifestyle and caste specialisations, making large hives from silk and regulated plant material, and some building webs strong enough to trap medium-sized pterosaurs. The new arachnids also found a way to disperse their offspring by using silk to create a kind of parachute, which enabled them to sail on the wind from the tops of the trees to seek out new lands, eventually reaching almost all of the Panzernan and Aelian islands.

    Meanwhile, the native lifeforms of Panzerna - flightless pterosaurs, land-dwelling plesiosaurs and ancient lineage of large terrestrial trilobites - were largely wiped out; some flightless swimming pterosaurs retreated to the southern volcanic islands, where their colonies had a precarious existence in between eruptions. By the end of the era, these large penguin-like creatures were evolving a more seagoing existence, swimming with powerful flippers evolved from former wings, and coming ashore only to breed. The isolated eastern parts of Panzerna still remained a haven for unique species of pterosaur and plesiosaur, as well as giant insects, and colourful, poisonous tropical trilobites; the eastern islands also saw the evolution of new crab-like crustacean species.



    While Panzerna provided a lifeline for many tropical species, a new tropical forest was also growing in the horn of Otope on the western edge of the great continent, as the changing climate brought more rain to this region. This western forest was largely isolated from Panzerna by desert, mountain and ocean; it was a last refuge for some giant lizards and crocodilians that had gone extinct elsewhere, as well as unique species of primitive birds, but was also colonised by various mammals, as well as some social arachnids, velvet worms, and flying squid species by the end of this era.

    At sea, there were some major extinctions of large marine life - plesiosaurs were in steep decline, as cooling climate and the spread of sea ice changed the patterns of the ocean ecosystem. Swarms of fish and squid became more scattered and less predictable; smaller sharks now became more prominent as hunters in the open ocean. At the same time, the accumulation of ice on land caused a further sharp fall in sea levels, reaching a new record low - again causing the extinction of many shallow-water species.

    Of the intelligent cephalopods, most became concentrated around the volcanic Ailean islands. Cephalopod intelligence peaked during the first half of this era, with sophisticated tool use, deliberate farming of kelp beds, and cultivation of various sea creatures to make use of their shells and exoskeletons. These species also evolved much longer lifespans, and with this came the development of what could truly be called ‘culture’, passed on from generation to generation, with the beginnings of complex language spoken via chromatophores as well as gestures and sound.

    However, with limited living space on the tropical shallows, disrupted by occasional tsunamis, cold snaps and volcanic episodes, it seems these species reached a bottleneck of struggling to find enough food to sustain their large brains. By the end of the era, the most intelligent species had actually gone extinct; the survivors were more mobile, dolphin-like species, able to hunt in packs for fish and simple squid in the open ocean for a larger portion of their diet; though taking a step back from the complex cognition of their now-extinct cousins, they were still smart enough to use tools to hunt for shelled creatures on the seafloor, as well as construct shelters for themselves, and shared much the same communication skills. They also inherited the trait of longevity, being able to pass on knowledge to their descendents over generations.

    But if there was a single winner amongst animal types during this era, it was surely the pterosaurs, which thrived over all other competition - with many new types of streamlined, intelligent, social, and often cold-adapted pterosaurs appearing over both land and sea, some species now matching the intelligence of the cephalopods, with others diversifying into many niches and continuing to suppress the competition from birds, gliding mammals and new kinds of flying squid. No other animal group had such a worldwide distribution and such dominance of food chains, and only mammals and insects rivalled it for diversity.

    As this era draws to a close, Nesiota continues to slowly rotate clockwise, looking likely to consume the Ailean archipelago in the near future. Meanwhile the movement of the Panzerna plate has slowed dramatically after touching upon the supercontinent, and now shows signs of splitting apart, with eastern portions edging further away into the ocean.


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    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018

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