Speculative Biology Sunday: Woolly Chelon

12 Dec

This weeks SBS comes to you from a niche filling competition on the spec forums that I am a member of. The niche to fill: The largest herbivore or carnivore in the northern or southern reaches of the world (land, sea, or air), had the Earth started cooling 90 MYA and 65 MYA was a large Ice Age.
I chose therizinosaurs as my ancestor.

The Mid-Cretaceous ice ages struck the Mesozoic world hard. After hundreds of millions of years in tropical balminess a lot of the dinosaurs were caught off guard and their ranges shrunk rapidly. The only herbivores really fortuitously pre-adapted to this change were the Therizinosaurs with their coats of dinofuzz thickening and billowing as the worlds mercury dropped and quickly spread throughout the northern hemisphere, increasing in number and size.
The most successful species of therizinosaur, the Woolly Chelon, is also the largest. Reaching up to 12 metres long and 6 metres long they have returned to quadrupediality to help support their amazing bulk. They walk on their knuckles, retaining the raking claws of their ancestry, which the often use to sweep snow off of buried vegetation.
Travelling in herds throughout the year, but in winter the smaller herds coalesce together and move far into the coniferous forests which dominate the frigid norths. They mate before these megaherds disperse and eggs are laid in early spring, hatching in mid spring. The females must survive on the last of her fat reserves from the last summer while she incubates the eggs and so females are often larger than males.
Predation usually occurs during spring and summer, picking off the young, the weak, or the mothers struggling to hatch eggs. Social bonds are strong within the subherds, and matriachs will be often seen greeting other matriachs when the subherds coalesce in early winter.

Heh, it’s funny because I named them from a chunk of a species name of therizinosaur before realizing that the chunk meant “turtle”. Heh, woolly turtle.


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