The Future is Wild

The Future is Wild

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Overview

The Future is Wild by Dougal Dixon, John Adams

Imagine the world in the far distant future — a world without humans, a world so different from ours that, until now, it's been impossible to consider.

What creatures will roam the land or swim in the oceans? The Future Is Wild brings to life a world of amazing creatures and sets them loose in our imagination.

Based on fundamental biological and evolutionary principles, they could — and may yet — exist:


5 million years from now.
• It cannot fly, but the carakiller is the Amazon's swiftest predator.
100 million years from now.
• Toratons, descendents of tortoises, are the biggest animals ever to walk the Earth.
200 million years from now.
• Warrior terabytes disable victims by spraying chemicals at them.

In five million years, Northern Europe and North America are covered by ice sheets. Only the hardiest, most adaptable species are able to survive. In 100 million years, Earth is a global hothouse, brimming with life. Another 100 million years and Earth is a single, huge supercontinent and one vast, warm ocean.

Using state-of-the-art computer animation, The Future Is Wild is able to transform the imagination into actual images, creating a living world of strange creatures and extraordinary habitats.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552977231
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 12/07/2002
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 9.75(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Dougal Dixon is an author and editor, with over 70 books and encyclopedias to his credit.

John Adams is the driving force behind a number of acclaimed natural history television programs, such as the award-winning Eyewitness series, and Amazing Animals, created for Disney.

Dougal Dixon and John Adams brought together a team of international consultants from Harvard, Cornell and Stanford universities; the universities of California, Arizona, Bristol, and Reading; Britain's Natural History Museum, and Canada's Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology.


Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Imagining the Future by Professor R. McNeill Alexander

Professor R. McNeill Alexander is Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Leeds, UK. He is a specialist in biomechanics, the study of animal movement. He has provided invaluable help and advice on many aspects of the animals and habitats featured in The Future is Wild television series. Here, he talks about the scientific processes and methods which underpin this vision of the future.

The Future is Wild tells of eight-ton squids roaming the land in a world where all the continents have merged into a single, huge landmass. It tells of snails that hop like kangaroos, fish that fly like butterflies through forests, and birds with four wings. This future world may seem incredible, but it is firmly grounded in science.

Imagining the planet Earth five, 100 and 200 million years in the future is no easy task. In order to bring the habitats and creatures of tomorrow to life, the producers of The Future is Wild have worked closely with an international team of scientific advisers to ensure that everything that is presented is possible.

We began by imagining how Earth’s continents might be distributed in the future. For this, we called on an earth scientist. By studying rock magnetism, earth scientists have discovered how, over the past several hundred million years, the continents have slowly moved, regrouped and crushed together to form mountain ranges. There have been no sudden changes of direction in these movements, and our consultant expects them to continue more or less as our future world maps show (see page 13). The position of landmasses and mountains also determine the climates of the future. By studying the world maps, a climatologist was able to deduce the climates of our future habitats.

We have had advice from a great many biologists. Some are acknowledged experts on particular groups of organisms while others are known for their breadth of knowledge in fields such as ecology, biomechanics and physiology. But even with this fund of knowledge, we have to accept that our predictions, though rooted in science, will necessarily contain some conjecture. In our rich, diverse world, there are simply too many species interacting with each other and with their environments in subtle, complicated ways. The theory of chaos tells us that it is impossible to make reliable long-term predictions for highly complex systems.

Despite the difficulties involved, we have done our best to ensure that the plants and animals of our future world are viable, and could evolve from existing species in the time available. Our team of biologists has suggested man remarkable possibilities, such as the megasquid, a giant terrestrial squid living in the Northern Forest 200 million years from now. This animal is the result of detailed advice and calculations from an expert in squids and a specialist in biomechanics.

Our suggestions are based on certain assumptions. We have assumed that the plants and animals of the future will be made of similar materials to present-day plants and animals. For example, we have assumed that wood an bone will be as strong as present-day wood and bone, and that muscles will exert about the same force as present-day muscles of equal size. We have also assumed that the maximum rates of animal growth or photosynthesis in plants, will be no faster than at present. These assumption have been applied in numerous calculations, to check, for example, that a large land animal would be strong enough to support its own weight or that a flying animal could carry enough fat to fuel its journeys.

A few simple rules, based on observations of present-day animals, have helped us to work out what the lives of future animals would be like. One general rule states that an animal sixteen times heavier than a close relative will need about eight times more food each day and take about twice as long to grow to maturity. The large animals that we imagine might inhabit the world in the future have all been created with this in mind.

In the course of evolutionary history, several amazing patterns of change have occurred repeatedly. We can expect to see similar patterns in the future, in other groups of animals and plants. For example, birds, bats, insects and pterosaurs have all, separately, evolved the ability to fly. Amphibians, lungfishes, land snails, crabs and insects have evolved the ability to breathe air instead of water. Ostriches and certain salamanders have evolved to become sexually mature while retaining juvenile characteristics - with its fluffy feathers and rudimentary wings, an ostrich resembles an overgrown chicken. Aphids, water fleas and rotifers all reproduce by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. In creating the plants and animals of tomorrow, we have used our knowledge of the past to help us imagine the future.

Table of Contents

Foreword
by Professor Stephen Palumbi
Imagining the Future
by Professor R McNeill Alexander

Evolving Earth
To imagine the future, we must first look to the past. By tracing the history of life on Earth, we can begin to see the recurring patterns of evolution that will help us predict what the future may hold.
- Dynamic Earth
- Cycles of Life
- Life Lines (Geological timeline)

5 Million Years
Earth is now at the peak of an Ice age that began well before human times. Northern Europe and North America are covered by ice sheets. The world is a cold dry place where only the hardiest, most adaptable species are able to survive.
- Ice Age
- North European Ice
- The Mediterranean Basin

- The Amazon Grassland
- The North American Desert
- End of an Era

100 Million Years
Earth has enjoyed a long period of stable conditions since the last Ice age, and life has bounced back. The icecaps have melted, sea levels have risen and the world is warm and humid. It is a global hothouse, brimming with life.
- Hothouse Earth
- The Shallow Seas
- The Bengal Swamp
- The Antarctic Forest
- The Great Plateau
- Mass Extinction

200 Million Years
The planet has changed. A single, huge supercontinent shares Earth with a vast, warm ocean. It is 100 million years since the mass extinction that destroyed 95 percent of species on Earth. But evolution is probably at its most inventive after a mass extinction.
- A New Pangaea
- The Central
Desert
- The Global Ocean
- The Rainshadow Desert
- The Northern Forest

- Glossary
- Index
- Picture Credits


Preface

Introduction

Imagining the Future by Professor R. McNeill Alexander

Professor R. McNeill Alexander is Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Leeds, UK. He is a specialist in biomechanics, the study of animal movement. He has provided invaluable help and advice on many aspects of the animals and habitats featured in The Future is Wild television series. Here, he talks about the scientific processes and methods which underpin this vision of the future.

The Future is Wild tells of eight-ton squids roaming the land in a world where all the continents have merged into a single, huge landmass. It tells of snails that hop like kangaroos, fish that fly like butterflies through forests, and birds with four wings. This future world may seem incredible, but it is firmly grounded in science.

Imagining the planet
Earth five, 100 and 200 million years in the future is no easy task. In order to bring the habitats and creatures of tomorrow to life, the producers of The Future is Wild have worked closely with an international team of scientific advisers to ensure that everything that is presented is possible.

We began by imagining how Earth's continents might be distributed in the future. For this, we called on an earth scientist. By studying rock magnetism, earth scientists have discovered how, over the past several hundred million years, the continents have slowly moved, regrouped and crushed together to form mountain ranges. There have been no sudden changes of direction in these movements, and our consultant expects them to continue more or less as our future world maps show (see page 13). The position of landmasses and mountains also determine the climates of the future. By studying the world maps, a climatologist was able to deduce the climates of our future habitats.

We have had advice from a great many biologists. Some are acknowledged experts on particular groups of organisms while others are known for their breadth of knowledge in fields such as ecology, biomechanics and physiology. But even with this fund of knowledge, we have to accept that our predictions, though rooted in science, will necessarily contain some conjecture. In our rich, diverse world, there are simply too many species interacting with each other and with their environments in subtle, complicated ways. The theory of chaos tells us that it is impossible to make reliable long-term predictions for highly complex systems.

Despite the difficulties involved, we have done our best to ensure that the plants and animals of our future world are viable, and could evolve from existing species in the time available. Our team of biologists has suggested man remarkable possibilities, such as the megasquid, a giant terrestrial squid living in the Northern Forest 200 million years from now. This animal is the result of detailed advice and calculations from an expert in squids and a specialist in biomechanics.

Our suggestions are based on certain assumptions. We have assumed that the plants and animals of the future will be made of similar materials to present-day plants and animals. For example, we have assumed that wood an bone will be as strong as present-day wood and bone, and that muscles will exert about the same force as present-day muscles of equal size. We have also assumed that the maximum rates of animal growth or photosynthesis in plants, will be no faster than at present. These assumption have been applied in numerous calculations, to check, for example, that a large land animal would be strong enough to support its own weight or that a flying animal could carry enough fat to fuel its journeys.

A few simple rules, based on observations of present-day animals, have helped us to work out what the lives of future animals would be like. One general rule states that an animal sixteen times heavier than a close relative will need about eight times more food each day and take about twice as long to grow to maturity. The large animals that we imagine might inhabit the world in the future have all been created with this in mind.

In the course of evolutionary history, several amazing patterns of change have occurred repeatedly. We can expect to see similar patterns in the future, in other groups of animals and plants. For example, birds, bats, insects and pterosaurs have all, separately, evolved the ability to fly. Amphibians, lungfishes, land snails, crabs and insects have evolved the ability to breathe air instead of water. Ostriches and certain salamanders have evolved to become sexually mature while retaining juvenile characteristics - with its fluffy feathers and rudimentary wings, an ostrich resembles an overgrown chicken.
Aphids, water fleas and rotifers all reproduce by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. In creating the plants and animals of tomorrow, we have used our knowledge of the past to help us imagine the future.


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