Imagine the world millions of years in the future, in the absence of destructive human beings. Natural selection would take its course allowing creatures to occupy every available environment. Life would evolve, exploiting new habitats and exploding in diversity. It is the end of Cenozoic Era, and the beginning of a new cycle.
This is the concept behind The Future Is Wild, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel's newest science fiction based mini-series. The team began by consulting geologists, climatologists, and biologists, to predict trends in continental shifts, the future of drastic climatic changes, and the resulting destruction and rebuilding of old and new habitats. To explore the possible ecosystems and the geography, the climate, the plants and the animals that would form them them eons from now, further research took experts to contribute from fields of biomechanics, neurobiology, marine biology, entomology, among others. With the process complete, The Future is Wild team has brought to life almost alien multicellular life forms (inluding fungi, plants, and animals) presented to our world.
Explore the future:
5 Million Years in the Future - The world struggles in the latest ice age. In order to survive, mankind set off to space thousands of years ago in search of a more habitable planet. Much of the world's fresh water is frozen in ice caps that extend over half of the earth's surface. Lush tropical rain forests are replaced by dry savannah. What refuge does this harsh world offer to post Cenozoic creatures? You'll be surprised...
- Spinks - burrowing birds living in colonies beneath the ground of the North American Desert. These birds have lost their ability to fly and are almost blind. Roots and fructose-rich sap of desert turnips form their staple diet. They evolved from modern quails. Quails, yes quails. So it's not a mystery why they can be so vulnerable and stupid.
- Rattlebacks - large rodents of the future inhabiting the North American Desert. They feed on almost anything edible including tuber, bulbs, insects, and even spinks. To protect themselves from predators, rattlebacks have evolved tough scaly coverings made of keratin. Their young have soft scales and are extremely vulnerable to predation.
- Deathgleaner - bat-like predators flying over the North American Desert. To conserve energy, they ride high winds while hunting for prey. When a deathgleaner soars the sky, it is the end for baby rattlebacks and spinks venturing on the surface. Well, at least for those stupid rattlebacks and spinks.
- Grykens - descendants of the pine marten, these are quick, agile, fierce, and stealthy predators of the Mediterranian Salt Flats. They take cover in the shadows of limestone crevices, cracks and caves, waiting for unwary prey. They would have been cute, if not for those ugly fangs which make them look like sabre-tooth tiger wannabes. Sheesh.
- Cryptiles - long slender frilled lizards reaching up to 45 cm in length (close to 20 inches) with pinkish coloration and grainy scales. They catch prey by spreading their sticky frills and running on two legs through swarms of brine flies. Using their long fleshy tongue, these lizards lick the flies stuck on their frills, and feed on them. Talk about high sodium, high protein diet!
- Scrofa - stupid creatures which evolved from the wild boar. They resemble malnourished tapirs. And that's all you need to know.
- Carakillers - descendants of the modern caracara which evolved into velociraptor-like birds. They can grow up to 8 feet tall, with large hooked beaks and powerful claws. They hunt in groups, running across the South American savannah with long legs. On their heads are bright red crests which spread out like peacock tails whenever they make those annoying calls. I swear! Carakillers are the most annoying birds of the future. They should be roasted and stuffed like Thanksgiving Turkey!
- Babookari - supposedly the last primates on earth. 5 million years in the future, they live in the trees in the Amazon Grasslands, where they are safe. Every day they risk their lives by coming down to the grasslands, exposing themselves to carakillers, because they need to go to ponds to catch fish. They have a cute way of catching fish, weaving traps from grass blades and leaving them in water holes hoping to lure fish looking for shade. Pretty stupid, but what can you expect for a small lion-faced monkey?
- Shagrats - giant herding wooly rodents of Ice Locked Europe. Although they are roughly the size of sheep, shagrats descend from the humble marmots. They migrate to the tundra each spring in search of thawing vegetation.
- Snow Stalkers - predators of Northern Europe that may have evolved from a weasel-like ancestor. The look like small polar bears.
- Gannet Whales - these are sea birds that transformed into large monsters with oversized blubber-rich penguin-slash-walrus-like bodies to occupy available niche left by extinct seals and whales. Don't be fooled by their cute and cuddly appearance, they might regurgitate digested fish if you come too close.
100 Million Years in the Future - Even without industrial factories and burping cows spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the earth roasts and boils as volconoes belch sulphur and carbon monoxide trapped in their hearts. The warmth encourages rainforests to coat the super-continent and soon the earth's atmosphere becomes rich in carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Make way for even more bizaare and exotic creatures.
- The Great Blue Windrunners - form a new group of birds with four instead of two pairs of wings. The name comes from their bright sapphire plumage. They spend most of their time flying above The Great Plateau. They probably live boring lives.
- Silver Spiders - nothing much about them except they have silvery exoskeletons and they build vast nest-like webs very much like some modern spiders.
- Swampuses - amphibious cephalopods from the octopus line. Although they live along the banks of Bengal Swamps to escape predators, they must return to the water to wet their gills. They lay their eggs in pools of water trapped in bromeliad-like plants. Like modern cuttlefish, they can change colors in an instant, using lose pigments called chromatophores that travel beneath their skin. Because their four other limbs have evolved into pads that allow them to slide on land, they are left with only four other limbs to grab their prey. Rumor has it that these creatures are about as intelligent as modern domestic cats. Not very smart.
- Lurkfish - are ugly spikey oversized catfish of the future. They can grow up to over three yards long. It is a mystery how other creatures can overlook a creature as large and ugly as lurkfish. And those who do, suffer dire consequences. Lurkfish can release up to a thousand volts of electricity using electric generating cells. Take that!
- Toratons - humongous descendants of the tortoise. They are the most massive animals that ever walk the earth. Because they are cumbersome, I think they should be extinct.
- Falconflies - nothing more than bird-eating insects.
- Spitfire Beetles - are beautiful insects of the future that live in rainforests. A group of four beetles can mimic the acidic flowers of the beech burner tree to attract unsuspecting spitfire birds. When the bird flies cloes enough, the beetles grab it with their powerful legs. The beetles devour the bird.
This is not a complete list, but just a set of examples to show what creatures The Future Is Wild features. Entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking, it left me with a dozen what ifs. Disregarding the apparent stupidity in many of the creatures, I highly recommend watching the series.