Where Bloggers Live: If I Could Travel in Time
Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.
Today's topic is If I Could Travel in Time...and I have thoughts. I have read/watched approximately 48,291 speculative fiction treatments of time travel and there are so many elements to it. Do you want to go back in time to change history? Can you do that without making things worse? Can you do that without keeping yourself from being born? Do you want to go back and give yourself advice? Will meeting your former self cause a paradox that blows up the timeline? Will you be a totally different person when you return? Can you return? Will you return to a present that's vastly different from the one you left? It's kind of exhausting to consider all the things that could go wrong!
That's why my time travel scenario is a bit different. The very best scientists and philosophers have worked hard at the problem and developed a way that people can travel in time and engage with that world without changing history in any way. It's like a "take only memories (and photos!), leave only footprints" approach in which the footprints disappear on their own. Go back in time to kill <insert notorious mass-murdering dictator(s) of your choice here> and your bullets will turn immaterial, hurting no one. Try to give your formal self a hot stock tip and you become invisible and silent. Write down the chemical formula for an important modern drug and the paper disappears. The Mother of All Algorithms detects when your action would interfere with the flow of history and prevents it. While this is unfortunate for those who would like to change the history of the world, it also keeps us all from accidentally screwing things up in a big way!
In the spirit of August and in lieu of real summer vacation travel, If I Could Travel in Time...I would become a time travel tourist and take my dream vacation with stops in multiple eras to visit (drum roll)...
The Age of Giant Mammals!
That's right, NOT the age of dinosaurs. I mean, I would totally love to see dinosaurs too but that's not my first priority. Ever since I learned about the giant mammals (I don't even remember when, it's so far back in the mists of time), I've wanted to see them in action. Because they are mammals, but HUGE. And while making something small makes it cute, making something big makes it amazing. I would like to be amazed by some giant mammals (and we aren't talking fictional Rats of Unusual Size here).
Mammals existed during the dinosaur's Mesozoic Era, but they were mostly quite small (no bigger than today's domestic cats) and lived in the shadow of the dominant dinosaurs. But after the dinosaurs (those that weren't birds, that is!) went extinct about 66 million years ago, an ecological niche opened up, and mammals started to evolve into giants to adapt to their new dinosaur-free world. Researchers have found that mammal body sizes increased much faster than brains, and competition between different mammal species spurred them to get bigger and bigger.
How much bigger? Way bigger. Here are some of the bad boys we could see in the Age of Giant Mammals (covering the Eocene to Pleistocene Epochs of the Cenozoic Era, about 66 million years ago to 10,000 years ago).
Megacerops/Brontherium (38-35 million years ago)
Called "giant horned face" or "thunder beast," at 16 feet long and 3 tons (6,000 pounds), this gigantic hippo-like herbivore lived in the plains of North America. Distinguished by its large size and blunt appendages on its snout, it was in the same general family as prehistoric horses and tapirs and was hunted by the largest carnivorous mammals of its time. It is believed to have gone extinct due to climate change and the reduction of its food sources.
Chalicotherium (15-5 million years ago)
Called the "pebble beast" due to its pebble-like molars, weighing 1 ton (2,000 pounds) and 9 feet high at the shoulder, this plant-eater lived on the plains of Eurasia. Distinguished by its clawed feet and knuckle-dragging gorilla-like walk, it is unclassifiable, with no living descendants. Young, sick, or aged individuals were possibly hunted by the "bear dogs" of the period. It's considered a classic example of the bizarre megafauna of the Miocene Epoch, going extinct due to a combination of climate change and competition from other, even larger mammals that came on the scene.
Megatherium aka Giant Sloth (35 million to 10,000 years ago)
Called the "great beast" due to its impressive 4 ton (8,000 pound) weight, 7 foot shoulder height, and 20 foot length, it was about the same size as a modern Asian elephant and was one of the largest animals in its habitat in South America. Its great size allowed it to feed on plants at heights unreachable by other herbivores of the time. It may have been hairless.
Diprotodon aka Giant Wombat (2 million to 10,000 years ago)
The largest marsupial that ever lived, this Australian animal was 6 feet tall at the shoulders, over 13 feet head to tail, and weighed around 7,700 pounds. Its extremely strong jaws allowed it to eat vegetation in bulk, grinding its food with its molars. Its name means "two protruding front teeth" in ancient Greek due to its long and ever-growing incisor teeth. The full-grown giant wombat was too large for predators, but young ones were likely preyed upon by the marsupial lion, giant monitor lizard, and the huge Australian crocodile of that era.
Glyptodon (2 million to 10,000 years ago)
Called "carved tooth," at 10 feet long and 1 ton (2,000 pounds), this distinctive-looking herbivore lived in the swamps of South America. Distinguished by its huge armored dome on the back, it was basically a dinosaur-sized armadillo that looked a bit like a Volkswagen Beetle. Tucked up under its shell, it was virtually immune to predation.
Smilodon aka Saber-Toothed Tiger (2 million to 10,000 years ago)
Named for its impressive canine teeth that measure close to 12 inches and weighing up to 950 pounds, this well-known predator lived across North and South America. It was related to many other saber-tooth cats of its era, but is only very distantly related to modern lions, tigers, and cheetahs. They hunted large, slow-moving mammals like sloths, bison, and young mammoths.
Wooly Mammoth (800,000-10,00 years ago)
Weighing up to 9 tons (18,000 pounds) and standing up to 11.5 feet at the shoulder, this well-studied herbivore lived on the tundra of Europe, Asia, and North America. Distinguished by its cold weather adaptations (like its wooly coat, 4 inch layer of fat under the skin, small ears, and short tail) and tusks that measured up to 15 feet long, it is derived from other species of mammoths that arose about 55 million years ago. The wooly mammoth was not the largest mammoth; the largest mammoth species weighed 15 tons (30,000 pounds).
Notice how many of these giant mammals went extinct around 10,000 years ago? A mass extinction (called the Quaternary extinction event) occurred then at the end of the Ice Age due to climate change and the rise of a new predatory mammal: the human.
But what about the giant rabbits? Yes, there were giant rabbits. For instance, Nuralagus Rex ("King of the Rabbits") on the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean weighed 26 pounds (about 6 times the size of a typical pet European rabbit). It was a bulky bunny with a limb anatomy and a lack of foot pads that would not have allowed it to hop! It also did not have the long ears that characterize the modern rabbits we know and love! Living on an island without predators, it didn't need to quickly detect and escape danger so it didn't evolve the big ears and fast motion of today's rabbits.
Thanks for joining me in sharing my "if I could travel in time" visit to the Age of Giant Mammals!
Next month's topic is What's in My Suitcase...and sadly, it's not a bunch of photographic equipment to take pictures of giant mammals.
In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share about their time travel scenarios:
Bettye at Fashion Schlub
Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks
Em at Dust and Doghair
Iris at Iris’ Original Ramblings
Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style
Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After
What time period would you visit if you could be a time travel tourist? Would you rather see the past or the future?
Blogs I link up with are listed here.