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[Member Project] Serina; A Natural History of the World of Birds
Topic Started: Jan 17 2015, 03:35 PM (171,881 Views)
Sheather
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Visit the Serina website!
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Home Sweet Serina

Light years away, far beyond our little blue gem in the cosmos, there exists another solar system almost identical to our own. Surrounding a yellow dwarf star that could have been a mirror image to that which we owe our own existence to, eleven planets spin about in an eternal loop. Remarkably alike our own, the system and its ring of planets soon became known as "The Twin" after its discovery, our cosmic doppelganger of the heavens. Some of these planets were very similar to our own, too, like the little red gem we'd come to call Ferna, a small body very alike mercury and equally near to the sun, its rocky crusts similarly molten and thousands of degrees above the humanly tolerable. Some planets, however, were giants. The third-most planet from the sun here was not a little rocky one but a gaseous giant. We called it Umbius, and at over one thousand times the size of Earth it gleaned quite a parallel to Jupiter, save for its brilliant turquoise color. But unlike Jupiter, Umbius was far closer to the center of its solar system, right within the hypothetical goldilocks zone. Unfortunately, it wasn't suitable for life, we determined, when we first discovered it in the looking glass of our telescopes in the 23rd century. Umbius was an eternally violent body where land could never be found. There were far better candidates for life in the cosmos. The "Twin" was charted, described, and soon forgotten. None of the planets in the system seemed at first glance to be what we had wanted in our own growing quest to explore the heavens, and in search of more promising new worlds, we passed them by.

But to another race in the heavens, the Twin held perfection.

They only called themselves the "Old Ones", and not until many generations after we had discovered the Twin universe would we even learn of their cosmic presence. They were an ancient and mysterious race who long ago had seemingly transcended the limits of evolution and become at one with the universe. Apparently quite benevolent but simply beyond worldly wants and needs, they found us unrelatable and boring, and though we hated to admit it, we found them so beyond us as to be nearly beyond comprehension. Their first contact left us humbled, but as soon as they made themselves known they vanished again, leaving far more questions than answers. They never remained in one place for long - and who would, free to roam without constraint through all of existence without worry of running out of time. With god-like ability, they apparently found great amusement in rearranging it as they saw fit, leaving their mark. In particular, living things amused them. While humans would paint, sculpt, or build great monuments to show his domination over nature and leave a trace of himself to posterity, the Old Ones terraformed celestial bodies, combining lifeforms together in bizzare combinations and under strange conditions. Watching the strange new biospheres take shape brought them reliable wonder. It's hard to estimate how many legacies the Old Ones carefully tended, incubated, and finally released when ready to flourish on their own before moving on and starting the process again. But we do know of a few others. Among the more notable that we would eventually find, a strange planet where ice coated the equator of a tropical jungle world of impossible grandeur, full of bizarrely derived Earthly creatures from seemingly every era. It was impossible to gather and collect all of their exercises in evolution, however, and for every one we discovered by chance were likely countless more we'd never find. The Old Ones went from world to world throughout all of time and space, building and crafting, watching for a time, and moving on, in apparent endless cycle.

Serina was one of their projects. Like the humans, they too nearly passed by the Twin in their search for their next malleable world. Either too hot, too cold, or too gaseous, not one of this particular solar system's planets seemed perfect for their game... until one day, when they happened to cast a second glance at the majesty of Umbius, the green gas giant, and they took in for the first time each of its fifteen orbiting bodies, a tapestry of moons large and small. Most were small - so small in fact that we humans, hundreds of millions of light-years distant, hadn't even seen but a handful. It made little difference, since most were cold and all but useless, but one was different. It was just a little larger than the rest, rocky and Earth-like. Though dry and barren now it appeared to have at one point been rich in water before an apparent loss of atmosphere stripped it of all its promise. It was too perfect an opportunity to pass-up for the Old Ones, a beautiful rocky world close enough to the sun to support life. With nothing but time, they set to work repairing the little world gone awry. Seas were re-established upon the little moon and an atmosphere was re-constructed. Its magnetic field was restored to inhibit its immediate loss again. They prepared but another stage for another chapter in their cosmic game that had gone on for countless eons. Slipping through all that exists and all that ever was or would be, they were ageless, and they were patient. Their past projects abounded in all of the farthest reaches of the universe - strange worlds home to even stranger creatures. Teleporting and slapping together life from all reaches of existence, they played a game of observation as their creatures adapted to their new worlds. Serina - the name man would eventually give the world, for it remains unknown what its creators may have titled it - was to be no different.

When the environment seemed ready, they began to bring it to life. It would never again support its own native creatures - time had not been kind to them, if ever the little moon housed its own. But it would again hold a thriving, evolving biosphere. Borrowing a sampling of life from a relatively young world in the cosmos, our own Earth would be the source of its new colonists. They would be conservative here, in comparison to earlier works, but the end results would be no less interesting. After they determined their little biosphere to be healthy and functioning, the Old Ones would step back and admire their work from afar. Presumably, they watched its progress for a time, but we cannot be sure whether they eventually grew bored and moved on, or if they continue to check in. They may be watching us all, beyond our comprehension, like insects under the magnifying glass. We may believe ourselves, as humankind, to have reached the level of the gods, but to they we may well be little more than ants - a curiosity at best. We may well never know all that they can know.

It was so that there upon the little blue moon, left to its own devices for countless millennia, a magnificent new biosphere would take shape.
It was to be a world truly "for the birds" - but not in a bad way.

~~~

Table of Contents
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The Gaiaverse

| Eden | Terra Metropolis | Life of the Sylvan Islands |


Other Spec Evo

|Life on Oxymor| Sheatheria | Serina | The Last Dinosaur

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Genesis

It was in the post-Christ human era of the 1800's that it is now believed Serina, a tropical high-oxygen moon roughly the size of Mars, was declared a functional ecosystem and left to its own further devices. Beginning with the most primitive of plants and algae, over several million years the world was gradually fitted with increasingly advanced organisms, building upon their earlier foundations just as one might build up a towering skyscraper, creating an ever increasingly complex system. Following the flora came the microsopic soil creatures - the nematodes, the worms, the vital detritivores - and then the invertebrates - the earthworms, the crickets, the shrimp and the snails. As complexity increased with each class of creature, so too reduced the number of forms introduced. Thousands of plants, hundreds of insects, but only seven species of vertebrates, only a single one of them a tetrapod. It was this single creature however, the last crowning introduction to the world, that would perhaps most impact it. Perhaps it was chosen at random, or perhaps it had been planned from the very beginning. However it was chosen, however, nothing would ever be the same again following the release of the canaries upon the verdantly awaiting, endless meadows of their new kingdom.

The Domestic Canary, Serinus canaria domestica, was a human-bred cultivar of the wild Atlantic canary, a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Serinus in the finch family of Fringillidae. Once native to the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira of ancient Earth, these small birds became, following the seventeenth century, among the most commonplace of human housepets, with a captive range quickly coming to cover the whole of the planet as a result. Bred into forms carrying nearly any color of the rainbow, few if any would re-adapt to survive in the wild in a normal environment. Here, however, they found no predators. Food was abundant, enormously so. Life would be privileged for a time... but gradually, dynamics would begin to shift, as the silent and timeless processes of which the creators so longed to observe would begin their work upon the birds, as well as their compatriots - the fishes, the invertebrates, and the plants with which they shared their new world.

Evolution would carry on and work quickly to re-claim what had so severely been interrupted by the old ones. From these few founding creatures, one day would a world of strange and wonderful life grow and develop.

The following is thought to be a nearly complete list of Serina's originally imported macroscopic organisms. Not included are the innumerable soil bacteria and fungal organisms vital to a stable ecosystem and the numbers of small invertebrates are approximate. Though Serina is most foremost the canvas for its namesake to claim, an ecology cannot subsist upon one bird alone and a great variety of other creatures have also been introduced to the world to fulfill other ecological niches. Only once these were in place and a basic ecosystem established could the true subjects of the project be introduced and expected to thrive. The bare minimum as a result was brought to Serina, in stark contrasts to many other projects by the Old Ones, but the end results would be no less glorious. Following the departure by its mysterious creators, this motley assortment of beasts and flora would have been utterly on their own, to live or to die, to adapt or to perish, to die out or diversify in a world all their own for over two hundred million years. Though many creatures would diversify over the eons following, none could so immediately match the birds in their progress. Millions of years ahead of their competitors, they would forever outshine them - or at least, this was hoped. The world of birds was born.

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~~~

Plantae

~300+ grass species, including cereal grains
~Dandelion
~Sunflowers (30+ species)
~Clovers (120+ species)
~Liverworts (1000+ species)
~Algae (10,000+ species)
~Elodea
~Moss (1000+ species)

Animalia (macroscopic, excludes nematodes, bacteria)


~Domestic Canary (Serinus canaria domestica)
~Springtails (1000+ species)
~Annelids (1000+ species including Earthworms and aquatic detritivores)
~Woodlice (pillbugs) (100+ species)
~Ants (50+ species)
~Aphids (110+ species)
~Millipedes (200+ species)
~Ladybird Beetles (10 species)
~Burying Beetles (all of genus Nicrophorus)
~African Giant Land Snail (Achatinidae, 5 species)
~Land Slugs (100+ species of Veronicelloidea)
~Sea Slugs (150+ species of Opisthobranchia)
~Crickets (50+ species of Gryllinae (field crickets) )
~Triops longicaudus
~Pond Snails (20+ species)
~Whelks (20+ species)
~Parthenogenic Crayfish
~Neocaridina (cherry) shrimp
~Jellyfish (100+ species)
~Copepods (500+ species)
~Hermit Crabs (100+ species, marine)
~Live-bearing Xiphophorus fishes (platies + swordtails) and Poecilia fishes (guppies).
~Hydra
~Bivalve molluscs [clams/mussels] (1000+ species/freshwater + marine)
~Mites (10,000+ species)
-Oribatida (decomposing mites)
-Ornithonyssus (parasitic biting mites)
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The Gaiaverse

| Eden | Terra Metropolis | Life of the Sylvan Islands |


Other Spec Evo

|Life on Oxymor| Sheatheria | Serina | The Last Dinosaur

A Wholesome and Good Thing

| Sam |
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Adman
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Totally not lamna
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You have finally joined us on the Terraformed World bandwagon. I approve.
Projects and concepts that I have stewing around
Extended Pleistocene- An alternate future where man died out, and the megafauna would continue to thrive (may or may not include a bit about certain future sapients)
Inverted World- An alternate timeline where an asteroid hit during the Barremian, causing an extinction event before the Maastrichtian. Dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and notosuchians make it to the present, along with a host of other animals.
Badania- Alien planet that has life at a devonian stage of development, except it exists in the present day.
Ido- Alien world where hoppers (derived flightless ballonts) and mouthpart-legged beasts are prevalent.
Leto- Life on a moon orbiting a gas giant with an erratic orbit; experiences extremes of hot and cold.
The Park- ???
Deeper Impact- a world where the K-Pg extinction wipes out crocodilians, mammals, and birds; squamates, choristoderes, and turtles inherit the earth.
World of Equal Opportunity- alternate history where denisovans come across Beringia and interact with native fauna. Much of the Pleistocene fauna survives, and the modern humans that end up crossing into North America do not overhunt the existing animals. 10,000 years later, civilizations exist that are on par with European and Asian societies.
The Ditch- Nothing is what if seems..
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Martin
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This pleases me birdman! Every bird lord deserves a bird world!
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Crookedjaw
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I'm glad to see this happen :D Hail our new avian overlords!
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trex841
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I'm excited for this. I'd love to see all the different forms these birds will take. It's like Darwin's finches, but for an entire world.
F.I.N.D.R Field Incident Logs
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lamna
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Sounds very interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing what will appear from such a bare-bones start. I wonder what the first trees will be? Is there Bamboo?
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This looks like it will be a fun project.

I am very happy to see my beloved oribatid mites and hermit crabs on the list as well.

Still holding out for sessile canaries.
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Nyarlathotep
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I guess the bird truly is the word in this case ;)

In all seriousness, I'm curious to see how you're going to work with the biology and anatomy of these creatures to make them interesting
Edited by Nyarlathotep, Jan 18 2015, 10:06 AM.
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Sheather
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Specifics of Serina

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Map of Serina during the early Hypostecene, with its five major continents labeled.

~~~

Though Serina is just slightly larger in diameter than Mars, it is marginally denser. Gravity on the planet, therefore, is higher than might be anticipated and is roughly three-quarters that of Earth.

Serina's atmosphere following the establishment of its ecosystem was very similar to Earth's, with oxygen at this time making up 24 percent of the atmosphere. The climate on the moon during this era was more tropical than Earth's currently and averaged roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 16 degrees Celsius. The temperate belts of the planet during this period were reduced in comparison to our own and the tropics extended further both north and south. Only the northernmost and southernmost regions experienced prolonged temperatures below freezing, and unlike Earth, Sirena at this time would have had no permanent ice caps whatsoever. It would be a warm and mild garden world, ideally designed to accommodate its new children as well as was possible during their establishment upon the world. Lasting from 0 to 10 million years post-establishment (PE), this mild and prosperous era would come to be known as the Hypostecene - the "Foundation Era".

Serina at this time would be made up predominately of a single super-sized, winding supercontinent known as Cirrus, which would remain together for less than twenty million years before the moon's high level of volcanism split them again. Composed of five individual landmasses connected by comparably thin land bridges, which run both north to south and east to west in a wide arc across the majority of the moon's face, these landmasses were known at this time as Anciska, Striata, Stehvlandea, Wahlteria, and Karii. In theory, by walking across them, one could move - without ever crossing sea - from one pole to the next. Though the various landmasses would soon after this era be pulled into increasing isolation, for the entirety of this earliest and most important time-span they would remain attached, permitting a smooth colonization and migration of all introduced fauna to spread out and thrive.
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The Gaiaverse

| Eden | Terra Metropolis | Life of the Sylvan Islands |


Other Spec Evo

|Life on Oxymor| Sheatheria | Serina | The Last Dinosaur

A Wholesome and Good Thing

| Sam |
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Martin
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Great job on the map! I love how you named the continents after your birds!
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Sir-Conor
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This project seems to be shaping up to be a very interesting one and seeing as I love birds I am truly looking forward to this :D I’m looking forward to seeing what you are going to do with these seemingly ordinary animals I'm sure it will be very interesting. You really know how to capture the imagination, the map is very well done and the title picture gives a real sense of Paradise.
Edited by Sir-Conor, Jan 18 2015, 08:53 PM.
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trex841
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Jan 18 2015, 08:40 PM
Great job on the map! I love how you named the continents after your birds!
Oh man, I didn't even catch that! Then again, My computer didn't want to load the map at first. Anyway, cool!
F.I.N.D.R Field Incident Logs
A comprehensive list of all organisms, artifacts, and alternative worlds encountered by the foundation team.

At the present time, concepts within are inconsistent and ever shifting.

  • (And this is just the spec related stuff)
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Sheather
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10,000 Years Post-Establishment

~~~

One hundred centuries have amassed since the day the canaries were released into their new world. Upwards of seven thousand generations of the songbirds have come and gone. In this time, their world has changed already in large ways.

Posted Image

The explosion in diversity in the canary was almost instant. Without predators, their numbers exploded as each pair produced, with luck, 15 or more offspring each year. Food in the form of the seeds of grasses, shoots of flowering plants, and soft-bodied insects fueled an incredible population boom. Already a noticeable diversity of forms has arisen from the multicolored domestic bird imported here 10,000 years ago; though almost all could likely reproduce with one another if situations required, few still do so given a choice, as one species has split into several hundred. Here on the plains of Anciska, while plump, solitary individuals colored gray and white crack away at the husks of a tall clumping sunflower's almond-sized seeds, a small, brilliantly red bird gathers in small flocks to strip the shoots not of their seeds, but of the large, fat slugs that gather to rasp at the plant's stalks, snapping them from their holdings with a beak already considerably longer and thinner than their ancestor's. Hopping haphazardly through the undergrowth, a fumbling quail-like specimen several times larger than either other bird hops awkwardly between the stems of grasses and clovers, nipping their tender buds and shoots. Were this 10-inch-tall specimen still on Earth, she'd be utterly grounded, her wings having not grown with her body. Thanks to Serina's reduced gravity, she retains the ability to flutter sufficiently to perch in the flower's branches during the eternally-twilight nights, bathed in planetary glow, but her nest is but a crude gathering of sticks set in plain sight upon the soil - their habitat all but lacking in trees or bushes and nest raiding small animals, among the very first habits among many canaries to develop would be the construction of the nest upon the bare ground. Until recently, this would have been as safe a place as ever - so long as the mother could guard her young from the occasional advances of ants - but already a nest-robber is evolving; this hen returns from her forages to find her eggs destroyed, the shells crushed and the yolks lapped away. As the thief takes flight and dips down again just meters away in the tall grass, her pointed, downward-curved bill is still sticky with her most recent meal. The egg-eating canary, however, has needs of her own to provide for, and has simply discovered a particularly nutritious meal to help her - nothing is quite so good to help produce eggs, than someone else's eggs. A time of naivety is coming to a close - no longer will everyone's young be so infallibly safe.

~~~

Changes are occurring within habitats now too. For the first time in its history, Serina is beginning to get its own forests. Within one hundred years of colonization, isolated thickets of Bamboo - the only native plants to somewhat keep a tree-like growth habit - initially seeded only in the far northern temperate zone began to spread towards the equator. In a natural environment, the growth of these most grand of grasses is kept in check by the presence of other large shading plants. Without the influence of competition, their spread across Serina's sunny, nutrient-rich plains was unstifled. Within 500 years tracts hundreds of miles in size had spread to reach southern Anciska. Within 1,000 years, the plants had bridged the equator. Today bamboo forests extend from pole-to-pole on every landmass, growing wherever sufficient moisture is present to allow their incredible natural growth rates of up to 34 inches per day. Without large herbivores to browse them, they are a boon to thousands of different insects and invertebrates - without any competition for these resources, for a brief time it is the gastropod's time to shine. Growing up to 20 inches long and weighing close to four pounds, giant land snails become the largest land animals. Their days are numbered, however, as already their young begin to fall prey to the largest-billed of the ground-canaries which having evolved their large crushing beaks for a wholly different purpose begin to put them to other use and seek additional protein to supplement their seed-based diets. Never again will the gastropods flourish as they will continue for the next million years, foraging at complete leisure in a world where carnivory has yet to catch up to the grazers - this is a brief, fleeting, time of prosperity for the snails, but not one that may continue forever.

~~~

In the waters of Serina, an even greater boom of diversity has been undergone in the live-bearing fishes introduced to a few inland freshwater habitats. Tens of thousands of generations of the fishes have spread across the globe wherever the seasonal rains and rivers could carry them. Without notable predators they number in the tens of billions, filling every pond and river with life as they gather in shoals of thousands, picking at algae and small invertebrates with only the occasional crayfish to fear - crayfish which, equally blessed by the supply of small fishes, may now weigh close to a pound. In the open sea, the guppies and swordtails have already adjusted to the high salinity, and for the first and only time in history gather in swarms with little fear of active predators in a sea eerily devoid of seabirds, sharks, or larger fishes. The largest sea creature at this time, and one of their only concerns, are the box jellyfish that may grow over 20 feet in length, ensnaring dozens of the tiny fishes each day - far more than they could eat - and making no dent in a still-rising population. Moving like strange neon-colored ghosts, the sea-slugs lurk below the action - enormous writhing beasts that now grow as large as a man's fore-arm. Similarly to distant land relatives, these molluscs experience their own brief dominion of the sea, browsing great swaths of coastal algae. One day, more significant predators will infiltrate this temporary marine Eden - but today, it is a land of plenty for all.
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The Gaiaverse

| Eden | Terra Metropolis | Life of the Sylvan Islands |


Other Spec Evo

|Life on Oxymor| Sheatheria | Serina | The Last Dinosaur

A Wholesome and Good Thing

| Sam |
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trex841
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Sheather
Jan 18 2015, 10:35 PM
Until recently, this would have been as safe a place as ever - so long as the mother could guard her young from the occasional advances of ants - but already a nest-robber is evolving; this hen returns from her forages to find her eggs destroyed, the shells crushed and the yolks lapped away. As the thief takes flight and dips down again just meters away in the tall grass, her pointed, downward-curved bill is still sticky with her most recent meal. The egg-eating canary, however, has needs of her own to provide for, and has simply discovered a particularly nutritious meal to help her - nothing is quite so good to help produce eggs, than someone else's eggs. A time of naivety is coming to a close - no longer will everyone's young be so infallibly safe.
Posted Image
F.I.N.D.R Field Incident Logs
A comprehensive list of all organisms, artifacts, and alternative worlds encountered by the foundation team.

At the present time, concepts within are inconsistent and ever shifting.

  • (And this is just the spec related stuff)
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