Man has been studying the fossil records for quite some time now—and we are not referring here to the investigation of old maid Sunday school teachers, Bob Dole, or others long presumed dead—and has discovered that there are many species of plants and animals which have become extinct. While many of these have simply evolved to more viable forms, there are others which seem to have run into a brick wall—or in more scientific terms, an up-thrust of metamorphosed iron-rich silt interlaced with veins of limestone. Although there is only inconclusive evidence as to the purpose, if any, of certain species, and why they disappeared into cul-de-sacs off the evolutionary highway, there are a few strange fauna (perhaps in future we shall look at some extinct flora) of which some understanding is beginning to emerge. An attempt here will be made to cite some of these peculiar species and to explain their possible origins and the evolutionary biologists’ conjectures as to why they were unsuccessful.
We have all heard of the electric eel, but recently a fossil was obtained from the mid-Atlantic shelf which indicates that this was not the only eel which could generate its own power. When bones were brought up from the depths, it was discovered that this creature, though sharing all the usual eel characteristics, also had a strange hollow bony structure in its back, with what appeared to be an opening in which it could fill with liquid.
Scientists were at first stumped until Dr. Ivan Offelkov of Stump University realized that this eel was in a region of the ocean far from where eels were normally found. “An eel would need a different source of energy to swim so far away from home,” noted the Professor. Others took up the matter, realizing that the bony structure could indeed have been a fuel tank of sorts. Other structures seemed to indicate further facets of a non-standard locomotion: tendons connecting in odd places, and a baffling system of calcified ganglions.
Dr. Offelkov theorizes that this poor animal died off due to shorts in its complicated circuitry. Some of his colleagues disagree, however. Professor C.D. Hicks from the Backwater Fish School of Ozark College, thinks that the structures for holding its electrical charges wore out too soon, and that the hybrid eel wasn’t popular enough to warrant its continuance as a viable species. Dr. Heinz Varietese of the Pittsburgh Oceanographic Society points out that in this eel’s epoch (early Mesozoic) that fossils were scarce, and fuels made from them likely in short supply.
The Equus Gigantis, or giant horse, was for many years considered only to be a stylized cave painting of some other animal, such as a hippopotamus, until the late 1950’s when the bones of several were actually discovered. This horse differed from the modern horse in ways other than just size. Like the cave drawings, it appeared to have a rather aggressive stance, its forepaws being somewhat shorter than its hindquarters. This gave it the look of having been artificially lowered. In addition, it had very large feet in the back, presumably giving it greater acceleration for escaping its enemies. These were quite obviously very powerful animals, generating far more than the standard one horsepower of the modern horse, and with that power probably came speed, even though that speed would have been useless on the winding paths around the tightly-knit cave communities where these fossils have been found.
Early cave renderings usually depict a male riding one as numerous large-breasted females gaze on him in admiration. It also appears that Equus Gigantis was oft times decorated with what in modern times might be called “bling:” flaming torches in the back, large funnels directing air to the nose so that the animal might breathe better, and flashy gold pinwheels decorating its knees. Many times , according to the pictures, a huge bass drum was also strapped to the horse, which must have produced earth-shaking thuds.
Some scientists at first believed that all this extra weight was the cause of this animal’s extinction, but analysis of the skeletal structure shows that this creature could easily accelerate to high speeds even with the extra loads. It is therefore now thought that Equus Gigantis perished because it ate too much, drank too much, and left too much waste material polluting the settlements of early man. Its cave dwelling masters simply ran out of resources to feed its huge appetite, and were forced to find other means of proclaiming their manhood and attracting females.
This bird was first discovered in the early twentieth century, and was at first thought to be a mere homing pigeon with a broken beak. No real investigation was made into its inner structures.
After some seventy five years, however, biologist Hooper T. Hoppet did a more extensive examination, discovering, among other things, that not only did all the extant examples of this pigeon have broken beaks, but that they also had a structure within the cranium resembling a voice box, and a long bone of high metallic content extending from it. Hoppet subjected these structures to various electronic tests, determining, in fact, that the copper-rich bone would function for picking up radio waves, and the “voice box” could, when stimulated to different shapes electronically, produce sounds. He immediately realized that this was a far more sophisticated homing device than that of the standard Homing Pigeon. Apparently this bird was capable of receiving directions for getting home via satellite signals. The broken beaks indicated to Hoppet that, unfortunately, these birds were so intent on listening for directions that they failed to notice other obstacles in front of them. With so much other air traffic, as well as trees, mountains, and tall dinosaurs, these birds soon collided with extinction. Pigeons evolved to newer, simpler forms which could actually just remember where home happened to be.
Recently, the discovery was made in Australia of a rather peculiar extinct kangaroo. It was very large, and had extra pouches. While one might think that these were to hold extra offspring, all but one contained what resembled crude cups. Apparently this kangaroo, like all other ’roos, did carry it’s young about, but needed extra space just in case, and apparently, while carrying its sole “joey” from activity to activity, liked to feel secure (hence, the extra size) and also felt the need for vast quantities of coffee, the residue of which was discovered in the cups. One theory has it that coffee is not good for a kangaroo. Though there has been no definitive research done here, it seems a plausible explanation for this creature’s demise. Dr. Oz Wallaby, though, feels that perhaps in hopping from place to place taking the child to learn various kangaroo kicking games, the coffee simply splashed on the youngster, and all potential descendants were scalded to death.