The Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction

The Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction

First person story

Development of spousal care. End of Cretaceous Ancestors name: Eomaia Aegialodon is another, though I don’t think it was around at this time. It was Early Cretaceous. Then, disaster struck. Sky blanketed with blackness and the ground shook underneath. [Death everywhere] Mammals and birds which survived the extinction fed on insects, larvae, worms and snails, which in turn fed on dead plant and animal matter. Memories of the era • Black sky • Sickening fear • Descending cold • Frozen corpses of large dinosaurs • It is a hairy proto-mammal in the undergrowth. Avoids predation by being very small, and not sunning itself. It's slightly warm blooded – it needs to eat more though • goes to hunt one morning, hears an asteroid. Animals panic • Skies blanketed. Winter. Snow. Ash • Retreats underground where it is comfortable. Feeds on routes. • Loans familial Bond, and empathy. • Much more advanced speech • Gets through the winter, gives birth to pups. • Mate slowly dies of disease. Must abandon the hole they shared together. From

Creature huddled with her mate underneath the rock. Light streamed down through gaps Winter was getting way to spring and clients were blooming. Their stores of energy held deep within their interior now flooded the tips of the plants As they strive for sunlight and Pollination.

She emerged to the dew of morning. (Maybe she should be nocturnal though) As always, she was hungry in the morning. She moved out into the undergrowth, and with ignored the filtered light. She put her nose to the ground and a whole world opened up to her. Ants, as always. She would t eat those bitter, swarming things unless she had to. She moved along, hunting. The faint smell of ---, predator. It smelt like wet fur and urine, and it compelled her to be cautious. She rounded around the trunk of a tree, it's diameter several times her size. To her, a tree looked as permanent and strong as the largest skyscraper of our time.

Past the tree, a cliff over looked a ravine. Slowly she edged out, ever wary of flying predators, undetectable by smell. Her eyes blurred with the distance of the lookout. Hers were used to the short distances of the undergrowth.

At her feet, the ground began to quiver, then shake. Some minutes later the sensation was followed by a low, deep, sustained rumble. Creature turned back to the undergrowth, pouncing on an insect disturbed by the Earth shaking. Then, off another fern another flying bugs attempt to take off was interpreted as Creature pounced on it from below. It tasted strong, and she left the hard exoskeleton to the ants. Overhead the undergrowth rustled, and a strong breeze carried a scent. A giant lizard was approaching, Gorgosaurus. It was large, and likely would not bother with chasing creature. She was too small, and it would take too much effort. Creature nestled at the base of a near fern, and the footsteps of Gorgosaurus broke through the underbrush, snapping twigs and stomping on the layers of leaves below. Insects scattered. It stopped for half a second and inhaled, then resumed its pacing throughout its territory. It may have smelt Creature, and certainly smelt the density of ants and insects here, but in these it was not interested. It was after something more substantial. Creature hurried to snap up the insects it left scattered in the wake of its feet. As the day wore on, the sky blanketed early with darkness, in an artificial night.

The next morning she awoke, and the sky was pure black. The rocks had not been warmed by the sun, so she shivered, huddled against her mate. He awoke, went outside, and returned just as she had. This was a strange day. Nevertheless, soon they were compelled to hunt. It wasn't so difficult in the darkness, as they could hear the creak and flutter of insects from many meters away. Occasionally the pair would dig for and eat the soft part of roots. But Gorgosaurus never showed. It, and other cold blooded dinosaurs, were extremely disturbed by the lack of sunlight this day. Without it, they could not heat themselves and get warm. Alone or with their offspring, they huddled in their nests, waiting for sunlight that would never show again for an entire year.

Creature heard Gorgosaurus' irregular footsteps long before she saw it. It was stomping through the forest, in a frenzy to find something to eat. Creature recognised the danger, and hoped that her mate was paying attention. But under the cover of the artificial darkness, she had ventured far. The Gorgosaurus would be straining to pick up any scent, including hers. As it dawned just how far away her next was, her heart rate quickened as terror took hold of her. Like an arrow she shot out from the undergrowth and sped across the ground.

Today, Gorgosaurus was desperate. Hunger was a physical pain inside of him, and the coldness of the sunless day permeated his being. The coldness was unbearable. Today he would eat anything, and the smell of wet fur indicated a small animal nearby, perhaps more than one of them. He thought he would find it and dig it out eventually, when he heard a rustle and several small twigs break. It making a run for it. Gorgosaurus noticed the movement and leaped forward, crushing ferns under its talons and with its long stride it strove to catch up.

Creature tumbled through the messy landscape of roots and ferns and trunks of trees, ignoring everything but the ground in front of it and the sound of the approaching Gorgosaurus. Inevitably, it got closer. Gorgosaurus let out a scream, as if to terrify Creature into giving up. She changed tactics. Gorgosaurus was too close. She darted to the right, and looped around the trunk of a tree, and Gorgosaurus followed. He was hindered by a low branch, and Creature gained some ground. The next tree was further, and she sprinted for it, Gorgosaurus in pursuit. By now he could see her. She was small and covered in light brown hair, with a small tail sticking straight out behind her. Leaping forward, Gorgosaurus stretched out a leg to catch her tail. But his jump went beyond that. His foot landed flat on Creature, breaking her bones. Gorgosaurus tumbled over the top, falling forwards past his prey and into the trunk of a tree, dazing him. A few seconds later when his vision re sharpened, he saw that Creature was gone. He inhaled, trying to catch scent of her, but the wind had changed its direction, she was now downwind of him, and would be much harder to detect. He howled his frustration and stomped into the deep forest.

Creature was hurt. She lay under a fern, and watched the Gorgosaurus turn and leave. If only it knew how close by she was. Everything was in searing pain, and she could barely move. Gorgosaurus treading on her had broken her small rib cage, and breathing and movement brought sharp pain. But she could not stay here. Fortunately her rock was not too far away, she had covered quite some distance in the chase. So, she limped, stopping only when the pain became too unbearable. Eventually she neared the rock and her mate emerged, licking and welcoming her back home. She went inside and fell into a deep sleep. She dreamt of a distant world, where food was infinite, and there was no danger. She saw millions striving, and just one achieving mastery, transforming the Earth into their heaven. She glimpsed the stars that she used to see every night, burning through a blue sky that was now just a memory. She saw winter, stretching on for eons, and the dying of many plants and animals, before giving way to the bloom of spring. She heard harmony, the sounds of the world all marching to the same rhythm, ceaselessly into the future.

When she woke, the sky was still dark, and without moon or stars. Pain thundered throughout her body, and she was hungry. Her senses awoke, and next to her she found a small pile of insects and bugs, brought to her by her mate. Gratefully she fed, and went back to dreaming. Her mate returned, and together the two creatures slept. When with each other, they were never alone in this strange, changing world.

Slowly, and entirely because of her mates giving of food, Creature began to grow back to health. But she found that the sky had not returned to its former blue, or even speckled black. It was dark brown, letting next to no light through. Plants were beginning to visibly suffer. Without sunlight, they could not gather energy, and as soon as their energy reserves were used up, they would wilt and die. Dinosaurs were just as reliant. Most used the sun to warm themselves, and without it their body temperature would slowly drop to the temperature of the air; far too low for such animals. As the plants wilted and died, the animals that ate them died. As these animals died, the animals that are them died too. Gorgosaurus died of the cold in a matter of weeks. Scavengers fed on his body.

In the oceans, plankton and sea plants suffered the same fate as land plants. Ecosystems suffered as their primary energy source was cut off by a thick layer of soot in the atmosphere. Closer to the site of the asteroid impact, the destruction was more pronounced. But slowly the clouds of soot and dirt engulfed the entire planet, and it was plunged into an eon of darkness and starvation.

Then, the firestorms came. Creature and her mate could do nothing other than huddle in their rock burrow and try to ignore the crackling sounds and the searing heat from above. If it came, their deaths would be mercifully quick. They shut their eyes, and held each other through the storm. The pair fell into unconsciousness.

She opened her eyes. Her mate was next to her, unhurt. She smelt an abundance of ash, and the charred smell of burnt vegetation.

Many insects fed and multiplied with the abundance of energy and nutrients from a number of dead and decaying plants and animals. Creatures mate always brought her food whenever he found it, sometimes travelling far to return with food for her. Creature sat up. Her ribs were beginning to mend, and she was getting better.

The world she emerged into was foreign and frightening. Trees and ferns had all but their highest leaves burnt off, and blackness stained their trunks and rubbed off black soot at the slightest touch.

Spring came and went, without discernible changes in the artificial winter. Eventually Creature fell pregnant, and had no choice but to give birth to pups in worsening conditions. They were born into a cold, dark world.

[Ends with mating and looking after young]