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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:15 pm 
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I understand your suggestion to be using a combination of hyperactive plate tectonics(possibly in combination with some of the other ideas brought up in this thread) and very slow(compared to ours) cultural change. The only way I feel like I can justify slower cultural change is to proportionately elongate their lifecycle. Good old JRRT is a good model here. His Firstborn lived long enough to see entire civilizations come and go.
I'm not planning on using Tolkienian Elves here. Just plain ol' humans. However, being at a fairly early stage I am not against making a drastic change. If I gave them extra long(to us) lifespans, I could claim that their culture changes proportionately slower. Say, instead of everything happening over 150 thousand years, it could take place over 150 million years. The ratio of continental drift to cultural drift[I should patent that phrase] would be exactly the same, only it would make a lot more sense geologically.

I don't do a lot of reading about concultures, has the "long life" thing been done to death already? I am not sure if it matters to me, but I'd still like to know.

Bigger question - if I were to go that route(the 'slowing things down' idea), and everything is proportionate to us with more conventional lifespans, would there be any necessary difference in such a culture? All things being equal, I really don't think so. Unless it be less reliance on object permanence. In other words, you can't become too attached to things if, in your lifetime, it will surely crumble into dust.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:20 pm 
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I, referring to living 1k times longer wrote:
if I were to go with the 'slowing things down' idea ... would there be any necessary difference in such a culture?


I could find very little written on the internet speculating how a culture would handle an elongated lifespan, but what I did find is less than encouraging:

The Global Sphere wrote:
For me, probably the greatest danger of curing aging is not overpopulation but the cultural or intellectual stagnation of humankind. Nobel physicist Max Plank wrote:

Plank wrote:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with the idea from the beginning."

The current human culture would be predominant because older persons would never retire, probably would hardly change their ideas, and would block the way to the younger and revolutionary ideologies. Culturally, or memetically, humankind has been evolving at an astonishing pace. If we compare human society 1,000 years ago with our society now we see an extraordinary evolution in terms of ideas, education, even ethics. Despite the fact that someone brilliant at his/her job would be able to continue at it forever, to have a generation of men and women stopped in time could be a catastrophe for humankind.


If 150K years were stretched to 150M years, with the human lifespan stretched accordingly, would they live 100x or 1,000x longer? I have heard people say that one million is one thousand thousands, but I have also heard that it means ten thousand thousands.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:19 am 
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The American system uses a million = 1,000,000
And the French system uses a milliard = 1,000,000.
There's actually a very interesting wikipedia article on the phenomenon.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Ok so I'm just going to stretch the timeframe for continental drift and leave the rest the way it is. It took ~150 million years to form the continents, and 150 thousand years for people to end up where they are.

I am now doing culture. Having already plotted out where and from what stock the various groups came from, I think I have a leg up on writing folktales(this seems like a good place to start with culture - what other part of a people's culture would have been with them longer?). I'm starting with the inhabitants of a very large plains area, whom I am basing on the Plains Indians. They have no written tradition, so all the stories are passed down orally. It's going to be weird trying to write them down, when they were never meant to be. After all, when you are telling/listening to a story, the volume or tone of your voice is very important(as are hand gestures), which all gets lost when it's written down. But that is unavoidable.
When neither you nor your ancestors since time immemorial have had any canopy cover to block your view of the sky, the movement of celestial bodies can become very important culturally. I got some library books on what the plains indians called "skytales". These stories tell how the constellations came to be, usually in an allegorical way like parables or fables, explaining tribal customs. I'll post a couple of the stories tonight.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:35 pm 
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blank stare II wrote:
rodlox wrote:
blank stare wrote:
In 150,000 years, the very continents themselves can come and go.


um, either you've got exceedingly long years, or the plate tectonics are hyperactive.


Does it sound possible for a pretty much Europe-sized continent to spread into three landmasses in 150,000 years? If hyperactive plate tectonics are a good excuse to keep the timeframe unchanged if the answer is "barely", then I can live with that. I'd have to make frequent earthquakes a part of the equation, wouldn't I?


or you can borrow from the Cretaceous, and have sea levels high enough to flood the shallow parts of a Europe-sized continent, making it look like three landmasses.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:48 pm 
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Once a sea level rises, is it up for good? Sea levels can't lower, right?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:54 pm 
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blank stare II wrote:
Once a sea level rises, is it up for good? Sea levels can't lower, right?

Of course they can.
Ice melts -- sea levels rise.
Icecaps expand -- sea levels fall.
Global cooling means lower sea-levels.

---------------------------------------------------------------

If you speed up your geology by a factor of 30 but slow down your cultural change by a factor of 30 you'll be about where you want.

My earlier suggestion was to speed up the geology by a factor of 10 and slow down the cultural evolution by a factor of 10. That may still leave you with a gap.
Our current real-life continents are about 150,000,000 years old (more than twice as old as "the age of Mammals"; that is, the extinction of the dinosaurs happened when the continents were about half their current age.)
Real-life history has happened in the last 10,000 years at the outside; and the human race as presented in the timeline you linked to is about 150,000 years old.

If your continents are only 15,000,000 (instead of 150,000,000) years old, and your conpeople's timeline is 1,500,000 (instead of 150,000) years, and their history is 100,000 (instead of 10,000) years old; then their timeline is still only the last 10% of the age of their continents.

You could make their continents 5,000,000 years old by speeding up their geology by a factor of 30; and make their timeline 4,500,000 years old by slowing down their history by a factor of 30; and that would be close to what you want, woudn't it?

Or you could use factors of 50 for both, and their timeline would actually be more than twice as old as their continents; 7,500,000 years timeline to 3,000,000 years continental-age. I think that might be too much, though, don't you?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:30 pm 
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tom wrote:
You could make their continents 5,000,000 years old by speeding up their geology by a factor of 30; and make their timeline 4,500,000 years old by slowing down their history by a factor of 30; and that would be close to what you want, woudn't it?


Yes, it would, but it would hardly be believable right? When you guys were telling me that continents move super slow, I didn't realize just how slow. If the vast majority of the history of the continents in our world had already happened well before the advent of people, then it's kind of pointless for me to even mention it when presenting my conworld. Thanks for that post, tom. You have saved me a lot of trouble.

rodlox wrote:
you can borrow from the Cretaceous, and have sea levels high enough to flood the shallow parts of a Europe-sized continent, making it look like three landmasses.


I'll definitely look that up on wikipedia and find out how it happened, so I can use something like it for that Avalon-type myth I was talking about :)

earlier, I wrote:
When neither you nor your ancestors since time immemorial have had any canopy cover to block your view of the sky, the movement of celestial bodies can become very important culturally ... these stories tell how the constellations came to be, ... like parables or fables, ... I'll post a couple of the stories tonight.


[Remember this is an oral tale, told over a campfire at night]

When the Stars Were Made
It is a clear night tonight. Cold weather always drives the clouds out of the night sky. On a night like this, if you squint your eyes, you can see every star in Skycountry. When I was young, my grandfather told me that the stars are holes in the Great Black Dome, that they let light shine through from the other side. All our ancestors live on the other side, and they watch us through those holes. Listen to me, and I will tell you how those holes in the sky came to be.
In the very beginning, when the world was new, Father Snake went on a great journey from east to west, creating as he went. He dried the ground, wetted the water, planted the trees and birthed the animals. But he was very short, because he had no legs to walk upon, and he gave no mind to the sky being so close to the ground. When he had made all the things that he could think of, he moved on westward, and he has not come back.
After many moons had grown and withered, and many seasons had come and gone, our ancestors grew from children into men, and they were very tall. They walked bent over all the time, because if they stood straight up they would bump their head on the sky. This went on for some time, and people wondered if there were anything they could do. No one was strong enough to push the sky up out of the way. So a great council was called, and everyone in the whole world came to see what could be done to ease their aching backs.
After many days it was decided that everyone should be given a long pole, and that everyone would push together until the sky was far away. So on the appointed day everyone set the ends of their poles up against the sky and they pushed and pushed. Finally, the sky started to move. It was very heavy, because Father Snake had made another world to sit on top of it, as our world sits upon another which is below us. All day they pushed and they strained until finally the sky was far away.
Now everyone was happy. People could stand tall, the trees could grow straight up, and birds took to the air because there was finally room to fly. But when the night came people saw that their poles had made holes in the sky, and light was shining through from the other side. The wise men and elders from each tribe came together to find out if this was good or bad. They went away to talk in peace, and when they came back they said that it was indeed a very good thing. Now people knew that The Place Where Spirits Go was a very bright place, and not dark and scary like people had thought.
My grandfather told me this story when I was very young - younger than you are now. And when he was little his grandfather told it to him. And so this story has been told since the very time when the stars were made.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:20 pm 
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blank stare II wrote:
tom wrote:
You could make their continents 5,000,000 years old by speeding up their geology by a factor of 30; and make their timeline 4,500,000 years old by slowing down their history by a factor of 30; and that would be close to what you want, woudn't it?

Yes, it would, but it would hardly be believable right? When you guys were telling me that continents move super slow, I didn't realize just how slow. If the vast majority of the history of the continents in our world had already happened well before the advent of people,


well before the advent of the Cambrian.

Quote:
rodlox wrote:
you can borrow from the Cretaceous, and have sea levels high enough to flood the shallow parts of a Europe-sized continent, making it look like three landmasses.


I'll definitely look that up on wikipedia and find out how it happened, so I can use something like it for that Avalon-type myth I was talking about :)


look up "Baron Nopsca" - his dinosaurs lived on the islands which became modern-day Albania.

or Archaeopteryx, which lived on coastal islands in mainland Germany.


that's a nice oral tale.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:41 pm 
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I have found(rather late in the game, I might add) a wikibook article on geography and its effects on the development of civilization. This is a good resource for someone building their conworld one step at a time like this thread describes, though it is a pretty incomplete wikibook. Hopefully I'll learn quite a bit from doing this, and be able to add something to the article in the future.

One thing the article stresses which I want to repeat here is that just any type of culture won't be found just anywhere. For instance, in the middle east you never got as much popularity with the bow and arrow as you did the sling. This is because they didn't have as much wood to be using for arrows; however, they had plenty of rocks.* Conversely, you aren't likely to find a slinging culture in the jungle, because you'd have to dig for your ammo and if you have trees all around you, you don't have room to spin the sling.

I'm figuring out the weather patterns right now. The geography will have a humongous effect on seasonal changes and the weather in general, so I'm on the hunt for some rules of thumb about it. I know mountain ranges often limit precipitation in the surrounding area, so deserts nearby are not uncommon. I know mountains usually find themselves near the edges of continents. Lakes and rivers = vegetation. That's about it. There's got to be more to it :?
What kind of weather would you expect to find across a very wide, very flat expanse of land? I'm thinking it would be windy, and probably stormy. You are likely to have large bodies of water in such a place, right? I am hoping to keep tree cover to a minimum, though I don't know of any reason why this would be.
I feel like it'd be too cliche to have bison roaming the plains, especially when I'm already cheating by using so much Plains Indian culture for the people who live there. I'll be researching other herd animals, so expect me to post something about it tonight or tomorrow. What do you guys think would be cool to have roaming some giant plains? I want to use ostriches, because their fast running would get them away from predators. Not too off the wall is it?


*a sling was every bit as deadly as a bow and arrow. Check out some history websites about the greek and roman armies using balearic slingers behind the archers because they had better range

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:27 am 
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blank stare II wrote:
I'm figuring out the weather patterns right now. The geography will have a humongous effect on seasonal changes and the weather in general, so I'm on the hunt for some rules of thumb about it. I know mountain ranges often limit precipitation in the surrounding area, so deserts nearby are not uncommon. I know mountains usually find themselves near the edges of continents. Lakes and rivers = vegetation. That's about it. There's got to be more to it :?
What kind of weather would you expect to find across a very wide, very flat expanse of land? I'm thinking it would be windy, and probably stormy. You are likely to have large bodies of water in such a place, right? I am hoping to keep tree cover to a minimum, though I don't know of any reason why this would be.
I feel like it'd be too cliche to have bison roaming the plains, especially when I'm already cheating by using so much Plains Indian culture for the people who live there. I'll be researching other herd animals, so expect me to post something about it tonight or tomorrow. What do you guys think would be cool to have roaming some giant plains? I want to use ostriches, because their fast running would get them away from predators. Not too off the wall is it?

Why not do some conbiology?
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:14 pm 
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That's not a bad idea, I've been looking at wikipedia articles about critters that aint around no more, trying to decide on the best ones to have developed for the particular climate.
For all you conbiologists out there, what format do you use to document your creatures? Do you draw them? Or what?

:idea: A really great artifact would be a cave painting of a conanimal


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:47 pm 
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The wikibooks link is good, but I would like to point out that Jared Diamond isn't infalliable, for lack of better wording. There has been some criticism of his ideas, so caution should be taken when applying them. Still, that doesn't mean you can't apply them anyways... but just a little side note I felt like making.


Quote:
What do you guys think would be cool to have roaming some giant plains? I want to use ostriches, because their fast running would get them away from predators. Not too off the wall is it?


Sounds awesome! Though I haven't reallyd eveloped conanimals of my own, one suggestion I have is to look up extinct animals that lived in similar environments. Find one that's really cool, but that no one would recognize off the top of their head. That way, you can get a really cool animal without really thinking too hard about it.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:17 pm 
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Now that I know where the continents are and what they look like, and have a good idea of the geography/climate in most areas, and pretty well know the relationship the indigenous peoples have with each other(not so much culturally as genetically and linguistically), I am starting to focus on culture - starting with the most "primitive" and working my way up.
I have come to realize that there is no less to do when developing a hunter-gatherer culture than a more "advanced"[that is, agricultural] society.
In getting to know these people, I have really consulted my maps hardcore, to find out what kind of place they call home. Since there are no mountains nearby, and the place has been exceptionally flat since who-knows-when, they are obviously smack dab in the middle of a giant craton - an old and stable part of a continental plate, having survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents. There are two great lakes-type bodies of water to the north(formed when two previously fused tectonic plates split apart and created a midcontinental rift, which formed a valley providing a basin that filled up when glaciers to the north melted). The area around these lakes(which could almost be called inland seas), is home to a large forest. But the plains themselves are vast grasslands where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other non-woody plants.
It seems like the plains would have a wide variety of weather throughout the year, with nothing to shield them from the cold of winter or the heat of summer. Wind speeds would be high for the same reason. The area is pretty temperate looking, probably able to support abundant wildlife, which I am assuming would roam in herds?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:53 pm 
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blank stare II wrote:
I feel like it'd be too cliche to have bison roaming the plains, especially when I'm already cheating by using so much Plains Indian culture for the people who live there. I'll be researching other herd animals, so expect me to post something about it tonight or tomorrow. What do you guys think would be cool to have roaming some giant plains?


giant wombats.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:55 pm 
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giant space hamsters


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:22 pm 
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I kind of printed out like.. 30 maps of the entire concontinent where my peoples live, and traced their movements inexactly over the course of about 1,000 years. At the end of doing that, I was able to determine who had history with whom, and who would feel what way about whom, and why. I was also able to go back and add in specific conflicts/big events on these 'timeline maps'as well, the more detailed the history got.

This was literally the only way I could get myself to make sense of their past. :p

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:04 pm 
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Yeah, same here. I'm kind of shooting for the kind of background information that Tolkien had when he wrote the Silmarillion.


For those of you who haven't read Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings takes place at the very, very end of a very, very long history. Much more epic battles with much more powerful dark lords had already been fought well before any of the characters in LOTR were born(with the exception of Galadrial and, perhaps, Elrond). LOTR was just a snapshot in time at the end of the third[and shortest] age.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:48 am 
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I'm working on a large grassland/plains area for my conworld; a few days ago I posed the question:

blank stare II wrote:
What do you guys think would be cool to have roaming some giant plains?


To which I received, among others, this answer:

Zwap wrote:
Why not do some conbiology?


Well that one hit me like a ton of bricks. of course... why didn't I think of that? If everything else in the world, apart from the presence of humans, is a priori, why wouldn't the fauna be?
I wanted something that would make sense, so I decided to read up on critters who roam the plains, and said:

blank stare wrote:
I'll be researching herd animals, so expect me to post something about it tonight or tomorrow.


After finding out what characteristics animals in this type of environment usually have, I pieced together the Øŋyk. It isn't exactly a herd animal; groups of ten or twelve of them roam around much like elephants do. These beasts are about six feet at the top of their "hump", though they are sexually dimorphic(females are smaller) so it's more like 5'10" - 6'6".
The øŋyk rummages through the grass, peat and moss looking for bugs and roots. It forages with it's big ole lip.
If you want to ride one you may as well forget it. A camel, this ain't. Hunting one? Don't go after the young; the females will form a circle around them and the males will charge at you, bellowing and swinging their large, heavy neck.
The star constellation we call the Great Bear is called The Øŋyk to the plains dwellers, who believe the smelly animals to be the first animal that Father Snake created.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:46 am 
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That Øŋyk is amazing :mrgreen:. Is this the creature that your plains people will live off? You made them sound very dangerous to hunt.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:52 pm 
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I like it, but any reason for the Øŋyk to eat bugs and roots in particular? It seems to me that most large animals eat either abundant plant matter, like leaves or grass, or eat other large animals.
That is, most animals that eat bugs are fairly small (see rodents, amphibians, most birds and reptiles), likewise, seed and root eaters might be bigger, but not human size.

Remember that an animal's size depends on its nutrient intake, a large animal needs a lot of nutrients, and so eats either a lot (see whales, most grass-eating animals), or eats nutrient rich food (see lions, tigers, wolves). Some do both or supplement one with the other (see bears, humans).

Bugs require too much effort compared to nutrient intake for a large animal to make an effective diet out of them (usually), and roots also take more energy than grass or leaves to find and eat.

Of course, these are my own observations based on my limited knowledge of biology and ecology. (That is, please prove me wrong if you can.) Still, things to think about in a quest for verisimilitude.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:56 pm 
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Quote:
Is this the creature that your plains people will live off? You made them sound very dangerous to hunt.


Buffalo were dangerous to hunt but the Indians had to hunt them in order to survive. They respected the animals that much more because they put up a good fight. To answer your question, I'm kind of torn between whether they mainly live off these animals, or a variety of animals. On the one hand, I could make them like the buffalo, which was almost the only thing a lot of plains Indians ate. Doing that would make it easy for me because I could just have millions of øŋyk roaming the plains in herds and I wouldn't have to put many other animals in there at all.
It would look like this:

Image

But, on the other hand it might be pretty cool to have several large plains animals competing for resources and running from the approach of man. Imagine an expanse of grassland as far as the eye can see. In the foreground you see a group of wild horses slowly grazing. They are small compared to our horses; more like ponies. A little further off you see a family of øŋyk watering themselves in a pond. Not far to the side of where the øŋyk are, a herd of gazelle trot along, moving almost as one animal. If you squint your eyes as hard as you can(in fact even if you had binoculars) you could see no rise in the land. No mountains along the horizon, no valleys, nothing.

What appeals more to you guys, and why?

caesar wrote:
Why do they eat bugs?


I was pretty much modeling the øŋyk's eating habits on that of the giant wombat, since somebody suggested I should have them roaming the fields. They were about that size(!) and rummaged around for bugs and roots. Is there a better diet I can give these animals? There are no trees, though there are bushes. I could design a bush which produces berries which only the øŋyk eat because it either (A tastes bitter, or (B is poisonous. This way they wouldn't be half-starved from a poor diet. You guys might remember the "Will it Ferment" thread, where we discussed hallucinogens in our conworld. These berries could be just that. This gives me a good opportunity for religious(and recreational 8) ) uses of trippy "øŋyk berries"

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Last edited by blank stare II on Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:04 pm 
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I like a more varied grassland as in the African savanna or the Eurasian steppe to a more monoculture grassland, though the American plains does have a fair variety of its own (or used to), just not as many large grass-eating animals.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:21 pm 
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I figure some must-haves for these large plains would be rabbits, coyotes, gazelles, prairie dogs; I have øŋyk, but I think more than one large herbivore could be supported by such a wide area. I would rather have a lot of animals than one main animal and little else. That would be too one-dimensional.
What do ostriches eat? Somehow, I'm going to fit them in there if I can. They could elude any predators because they are fast and mean, so they just make sense to be there.


I don't have elephants in my conworld. I am just showing this picture of them to make this point. Each of them weighs about a ton, and there are about a bazillion of them. Yet there is plenty of room for this and several more herds of this size. So yes, there is room for several large herbivorian beasts.
Image

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:26 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 11:02 am
Posts: 281
Cool critter! tasty, I bet.

CaesarVincens wrote:
I like it, but any reason for the Øŋyk to eat bugs and roots in particular? It seems to me that most large animals eat either abundant plant matter, like leaves or grass, or eat other large animals.
That is, most animals that eat bugs are fairly small (see rodents, amphibians, most birds and reptiles), likewise, seed and root eaters might be bigger, but not human size.


Another factor is that larger animals can roam farther for food than smaller ones (ie, Short-Faced Bear, elephants)...and sometimes animals get larger to fight others of their own kind for resources.

also, lions are more likely to bug the small antelopes than the elephants. size helps.

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