Reptile History
Dragon History

 

Reptiles of the Future

Reptiles of the future are of course just speculation. But since it is part of the T Rex Museum mission statement to study this subject we will present it here. There are two paths one can go on here. One is the more scientific look at what reptiles in the future might evolve into given our current knowledge. The second way is pure imagination. To see this, click the Dragon History link.


An outing to the beach. Just what my brothers, sisters and I wanted. But this was going to be serious. This was going to be school. Still, we were all very excited about it. The outing was to be the first time since the hatching that we young eppies were being allowed to accompany our parents and older siblings on a food gathering expedition.

Okay, I know Iím apparently back in the possible world 50 million years after mankind disappeared from Earth. Better look around and see what I can figure out. This time it looks like I'm on a large plain near the coast. Do I have the same type of consciousness as I had on my last adventure into the future? Seems the same. What do my memories tell me?

I am a member of a family that would have been called Exossopraedators or bone pillagers the scientist in me says. Looking back still farther I know that about 135 million years before that extinction event and in the Age of the Great Reptiles, the Eppie (E' pee) families ancestors were probably a small fleet footed theropod or carnivorous bipedal dinosaur. Somewhere in the early Cretaceous this family had started developing feathers and wings that aided in both insulation and stability, and developed a rapid running, jumping and predatory lifestyle. They may have even developed flight, but had turned back to a ground based existence by the beginning of the Eocene. This was just after the mass extinctions of their close cousins the Archosaurian dinosaurs had left open a perfect niche for them to exploit.

As flightless Ostriches they had developed more of a taste for vegetable matter than meat. But they didn't always turn away from a live or just dead morsel when it was available. And with the mass extinctions of the mammals many, many more niches were suddenly opened to this flightless Ratite bird family. Why they took the lifestyle they now dominate is unknown to even them. Maybe the availability of all the dead and dying mammals tempted them to an easier lifestyle. Maybe there was a deep genetic intelligence that sensed that this new direction would be best for the species. Maybe it was blind luck. In any case the Ostrich family made a turn toward a scavenging lifestyle sometime soon after the last great extinctions and they eventually became the Exossopraedators or Eppies.

Right place, right time, and already warm blooded the Ostriches simply out hustled their competition into a lucrative new niche. New habits and lifestyles were developed over the years which allowed the family to hold and then expand this niche.

Family rearing became an inbred genetic habit. What ever benefited the family benefited the species and so the development went over the millions of years. In evolution anything that gives a species an advantage and can be passed on to offspring will generally cause that species to flourish and continue. There is also another factor not commonly understood that is often the difference between success and failure over the long haul. This has been called by some as the doubling factor. What it means is that often a single factor that initially gives a species an advantage in a given niche is not enough to insure its long-term survival. Competition is fierce on all levels and especially on the evolutionary level. An advantage that is here today may often be gone tomorrow when a competing species also develops a similar or even better strategy.

But if after securing the first advantage, a species comes up with that one in a billion second advantage immediately after the first one, it greatly increases the species long-range prospects. In fact, it may be that this Doubling Factor is responsible for much of the improbable long-term success of niche dominating species.

This is exactly what happened to the Eppie's. First they developed a fast mobile life style that allowed them to get to an underutilized food source. This then allowed them to invest more time and energy raising families and develop structures which further helped their survival as a species. This was the first evolutionary trait. The second came as they developed a unique defense.

As the Eppies digestive system became more and more efficient to eating carrion, a unique trait developed. It happened in this manner; one day a larger scavenger chased an Eppie away from a bloated carcass. The fleeing Bird-reptile spit out his mouthful of carrion full in the face of this pursuer. To all the Eppies amazement the nearly now nearly blind pursuer stopped the chase, went into a frenzy, and quickly left the area shaking its head and frantically trying to get back its sight. The Exassopraedators were intelligent animals and the very process of training young placed a premium on individuals mimicking their parentís successful behavior. An Eppee who had witnessed the scene tried the same trick the next time he was pursued by a larger scavenger. The strategy worked again. Maybe it was the decomposing meat or some noxious ingredient in it. Maybe when combined with the Eppies saliva it became doubly potent. Or maybe it was coincidence. But it did work often enough that it became a standard defensive ploy. Soon they were all doing it as well as teaching each new crop of young this trick. Over the years it became more than just a strategy as the families actual mouth secretions become a noxious, almost poisonous substance that became the second evolutionary advance or the Doubling factor which now enabled the Exossopraedator family to rapidly spread to other areas on other continents than where they originated as the dominant scavenger of the lands. Now instead of being a purely defensive ploy the poisonous spray is often used to drive other animals away from the carcass in an aggressive manner. Thus a strategy became a genetic trait which was passed on to future generations and greatly enhanced this families survival as a new species.

Normally, the young were fed and protected at a communal nesting site where several families shared the trials and tribulations of raising the increasingly demanding young brood. But sooner or later the youngsters were going to have to face the realities of life and the laws of survival. Today would be the first of many lessons. Those that learned lived to pass these lessons on to their offspring. The slow or the unlucky were weeded out early. This was the reality of life after 500,000 centuries of Future evolution.

After 2 months in the eggs and three months of mouth feeding, it was time for the young to learn the family business. This business was an ancient and important natural function; scavenging the remains of all the slow, unlucky, or sick creatures found throughout the vast African, North American and Asian continents. Other families of their kind had apparently spread to all the major continents and were slowly spreading to other regions as they easily out- competed most other scavengers. This was due in large measure to their unique family structure and their ability to attack competitors with their noxious saliva and speed.

As they started off toward the beach this brisk spring day the family lined up instinctively in a traveling order. At one end was an adult, then an older sibling, the babies, and another adult bringing up the rear. Ranging out around the group were other older siblings or members of this extended family. It was an almost automatic defensive mechanism that was now part of the Eppies genetic memories. In more practical manners it was a case of the fastest animals with the best eyesight and also most expendable who were basically scouts for the family. This was not done in any planned way any more than wolves used to have the dominant and strongest male break trail in snow. It was simply the most efficient strategy and over the years became automatically adopted by the families without conscious thought. If a predator attached, it would first be seen by the young adults who could cry a warning and then flee or attack as was deemed necessary. Alerted, the family and especially the babies then had time to either prepare or flee depending on the nature of the threat. I was the last baby in the line of eight.

To get to the sea the we had to cross a grassland savanna composed mostly of clumps of two or three foot high grasses and an occasional large tree. Here the scouts would occasionally surprise a snake or small lizard. These were brought back to the family for us young ones to eat and keep up our strength. Often we would pounce or play cat and mouse with these presents which I immediately knew would help to hone our hunting skills when offal was lean and hard to find.

Although not at full speed yet, we could still travel in excess of 45 miles (72 kph) an hour. This made us one of the fastest creatures on the planet, my genetic memory told me. This was very necessary in this highly competitive ecosystem. There were many predators who would not be deterred even by the Exossopraedators speed, family defensive traits, or venomous saliva. The survival rate of the family was not high even with all our advanced survival skills. But it was higher than the competition, so we prospered as a dominant species of and our line continued on through time.

Finally I could smell salt in the air. None of my siblings seemed to know what it was. A short time later the blue ocean could be seen by all and the tang of the salt air inhaled and understood by all the youngsters. I was one of the more rambunctious babies started to break from the line and run toward this wonder. I was quickly intercepted by one of the adults and nipped back into the line for my trouble. Family discipline must be maintained.

After a short time two of the scouts returned from the waterfront which was apparently a signal that all was well. Our family now proceeded to the warm beach sands at an easy trot. Everyone took turns rolling in the clean warm sands and ducking into the shallow salt water. This was a great way to rid ourselves from the irritating parasites that occasionally plagued us my memory said. We engaged in play typical of all youth when found in a carnival atmosphere. Jumping and rolling, racing around these novel sand dunes, and exploring new nooks and crannies. This was fun. What incredible speed I could muster. Look ma, I can turn on a dime. Oomph, where had that stick come from I thought as I picked myself up and shook the sand from my feathers.

Of course our parents continued to scan both up and down the beach and a couple of scouts still nervously roamed inland a short distance. Still, all appeared well so after a quarter hour of frolicking play the adult Eppies rounded us all up and headed north up the beach to where they knew a large carcass had washed up on the sands recently. It had been discovered by one of the family scouts only that morning so there should be some meat left on the large carcass. For the purposes of teaching the families newest members the business, it was a good scenario.

We could all smell the delicious rotting meat way before we saw it. Sure enough, when we arrived at the scene a little while later there were only some medium sized scavengers no bigger than ourselves feeding on the remains that were half out of the water. Watching our parents for clues our newly arrived family ringed the carcass in a semi circle which was apparently a normal formation for this sort of feeding. I looked at my brothers and sisters and found them looking around as mystified as I was at what to do next.

School was now in session. An adult was the first to show us the technique to be used. He sprinted in toward the remains at full speed. At 70 miles an hour (112 kilometers) it is hard to see much less stop an attack if you were a victim of an Eppie "dive bombing." In this case a dead whale sized carcass was not likely to notice or care. Again, delving into my genetic memories I could see that the tactic works well when larger or more dangerous predators are still feeding and one must snatch and run, or else end up in a potential life or death struggle. The technique, developed over eons was a well-tested and successful way to scavenge with minimal confrontations.

In this case it was just a training run since no one really contested the food source. The dive-bombing sortie is launched at a specific target; usually any piece of offal that would fit in a family memberís mouth.

Grabbing a likely morsel on the run the adult maintained his awesome speed until he looped back out to where we youngsters were watching in the circle formed by the family more than a hundred yards out. He dropped the reward at our feet to show us what he had acquired. Lesson number one in the strategy for survival had been demonstrated. Other family members took their turn as we babies watched. After a while I was ready to take a try at this. How hard can it be? Run like heck and grab a piece of lunch and keep going.

I started fighting and large eyes looked directly at me. I was given the okay and so took off as fast as I could go and proud to be the first. Top speed, watch for sticks. Here is a good place to bite next to the tail and I grab. I stop as fast as I started as I am slammed into the rotting flesh. I shake myself off as I arise and realize that I tried to take too big a bite and so yo-yoed into the carcass. Ashamed I look back as my parents look at my siblings to make sure they understood the lesson. No harm done, this is only a drill with no dangerous competitors around to snatch up a dumb baby Eppie. I trot back to the end of the line and watch to see who will go next.

But now chance intervenes. Lumbering up from the south was a very dangerous adversary which I know would be called an Ictusaurus if any zoologists were around to do the naming. This was a medium sized fast carnivore and a dangerous opponent. Normally Ictus also hunt as a family so this specimen must be either an older outcast or very young male in search of a territory. They were wolf like carnivores who hunted in much the same fashion as the long extinct mammals did. My zoologist training comes to the front and I know that originally the Ictusaurus family was from the Basiliscus lizard line. A whole family of Ictus would be a very dangerous situation for us, although the adults could easily outdistance them if they needed to. One individual was no match for a family of eppies, still it was maybe too drastic for our young familyís first lesson and my parents decided not to have a confrontation. Still we were instructed by our parentsí body language to pay attention to everything that happened.

One of the younger adults quickly herded us out over the dunes and toward the safety of the inland grasses where our speed would prevail if things went wrong. The other family members spread out on an intercept course toward the approaching predator. The commotion of the young Eppies leaving caused movement in the grasses and the Ictu changed direction to investigate for potential prey.

This immediately triggered the both our parents into charging him at full speed. A collision seemed likely and he braced for impact but at the last minute they veered off. One by one or in pairs the lone predator was dive bombed by the remaining protective family members. His attention now diverted to more pressing matters he did not notice that the rest of the family had circled him widely and was head back south toward our communal home after watching the tactics displayed by the other family members in this threat situation.

After several more runs at the thoroughly confused predator and as if on cue the rest of the Exossopraedators made a mass charges at the frustrated and Ictusaurus and then sprinted south to rejoin the rest of us. The potentially dangerous confrontation had turned into a standoff and a good first lesson for the young ones.

Anything can and often does happen on any given day and this day ended just as it started, at the communal nest. Other families came back in each with their own unspoken stories, but adventure and learning opportunities were a daily occurrence. All in all it had been a very busy and informative day for the families. Other days would be similar. I knew there would be good days and not so good days. There would be feasts and there would be famine. There was even bound to be tragedies at points along the way. Lessons always required some to pay the price of learning. But the story and the family would go on. It was all part of making the Eppie family stronger and more able to cope with the everyday job of surviving in this fascinating world of the Future I keep finding myself in.

More Future Reptiles

It was an early spring day started and the bright orange sun was slowly peaking over the eastern horizon. There was very little noise to be heard near the dark and tranquil lakeshore. The usual early morning fog drifted tendrils in and out of the trees, which grew so close to the water. Large slow drops of water plopped down from branches and leaves higher up and were reminders of the late rains from yesterday evening. As the night shift went to their various caves, burrows, and hiding places the morning shift of local inhabitants were just starting their search for this morningís breakfast.

It was still quite cold near the water, but this would change as the day wore on. Even the buzzing insects had not gotten up to speed yet. It would be another couple of hours before the frenetic scramble would really shift into high gear. Peaceful tranquility was the rule early in the day. This morning, however, there was going to be a change of routines. For today was the day when the new King would make his appearance for the first time in his unsuspecting kingdom.

The first sign that he was arriving was a series of ripples in the distance. These ripples soon became waves washing the shore and finally a showering cascade of water droplets as I arrived in a rainbow of color on the wide sandy beach.

What am I doing here I asked myself. And I got no answer. Water continued to flow down my entire heavily muscled 18 foot body and disappeared into the sand as I looked at my body in amazement. My tail arched out of the lake as if proclaiming "I have arrived." My head stood an impressive 10 feet above the sand on upright legs and was counterbalanced by my powerful tail. A golden green color was much the same color as the surrounding growth of waterside plants and my outlines was broken up with brown and rust stripes that made me almost impossible to see if I was standing still in the lush undergrowth around me.

Okay, what's going on. I know this is some kind of a dream or something, but I have never had one this real. And yet it didn't feel exactly real either. Something felt wrong. I had had dinosaur dreams before, what kid hadn't? And yet no dinosaur ever live that looked like this. Of that and nothing else I was sure.

After taking few moments to survey my surroundings I was sure this was not in the past. These plants were familiar but unrecognizable. I realized suddenly that I could smell these botanical creations both individually and as a group. The sensations hit me like a blow to the head and I wobbled a little until I got control of my new body again. Better drop back to automatic pilot until I sort this all out. Also better get off this beach in case there is something nastier than I appeared to be walking around looking for breakfast. I quietly slipped into the vegetation surrounding this narrow but long lake. It was in the middle of what looked like a semi tropical South American forest.

As I blended seamlessly into this vegetation I marveled at the grace and strength this incredible body that I was wearing possessed. When I stopped trying to override this body's command I found these unusual feelings that nearly overcame me were easier to handle. What I was calling autopilot seemed to be some sort of instincts the body possessed. And then if I overruled them and took charge I seemed to be using my native intelligence.

How interesting. When I was back in school I remember studying how some reptiles like monitor lizards, tegu's and pythons have demonstrated this dual kind of behavior. So this creature apparently had these same abilities, only it was my intelligence directing anything that the instincts couldn't handle. I test this theory out several times and it seemed to work. And right now my instincts were telling me I am hungry.

Great, what did I eat? My tongue tells me that my teeth are very sharp. Okay, probably a carnivore. But do I run my meal down like a great cat or wait and ambush it like a Komodo dragon does? Better turn this over to autopilot. Or rather instincts. Okay, I stop between two bushes that look like rubber trees. Not a muscle quivers. Half an hour goes by and not a move, but no food either. How long do I wait? This second-guessing could drive me wild. Maybe this creature that is me has been programmed for patience but my intellect has not. Wait, what's that?

The first to pay tribute to my hunger was a small lizard-like insectivore hunting for his own breakfast. This lizard was in a hurry to get down to the water where insects could now be heard droning. He failed to notice the new growth by the edge of the well-trod pathway. With lightning like speed I lunged onto the path and snatched this dog sized creature in my mouth. Crunch, shake, crunch, violent shake, chew, chew and I had a dead something in my mouth. Head tilted toward the sky, jaws unhinged slightly and a convulsive swallow and I had a start on breakfast. Not quite a full meal the regal tyrant I was but a good start. And it didn't cost me a dime. McDonald's, eat your heart out. This was the start of an interesting adventure. Guess it's time to wake up now.

Hmmm. Nothing happening here. Guess I'm not in charge of this dream or whatever it is. I settle down on my muscular haunches to wait for what happens next. And shortly, the next target of opportunity comes along. With my almost perfect camouflage it wasn't long before it was time to rest on a full stomach. What do I do now? Most reptiles look for some patch of sun or a warm rock to help digest meals the most efficiently so I guess I'll try the same. But I notice that I am not a slave of the temperature around me. Maybe I'm warm blooded like mammals or dinosaurs from long ago. I wonder exactly when this is supposed to be taking place. This sure seems to be Earth and my instincts seem to confirm this thought. And yet I don't feel all that comfortable with all that meat inside me. Okay, l am just guessing now but maybe I'm not totally cold blooded and not totally warm blooded. This could be interesting if true. Possessing most of the best qualities of both lifestyles would make me a very impressive creature. When there was a good reason for it that means I can slow down my metabolism and thus conserve energy or get more from less. And then within a relatively short period of time I should be able to revert to a high energy warm-blooded creature, although my eating requirements would go up equally fast. Oh well, all life is a trade off of various functions versus varies penalties. In this I may be much more like the ancient dinosaur ancestors of the birds than the more recent lizards of my time.

What was most interesting to me right now was my ability to quickly assess and then understand much about this world. It was almost if I was getting some coaching from an unknown source. Fine, I'll take it until I figure out what is going on here.

Somehow right then I knew with a chilling certainty that I was definitely on Earth. But far into Earthís future. Was mankind still around? What was this Earth like? Was I one of the dominant creatures here or were there nasty surprises in store for me? My new body seemed pretty confident. I just hoped I could trust these instincts.

Several hours later I'm draped over a log just up slope from the creek which flows into the eastern end of this nameless lake. I wasnít really hungry again but something inside me felt the urged to get up and start exploring this new territory while my energy level was at a peak.

My instincts told me that I was a creature of voracious and non-discriminating appetite. And that it took a lot of food to keep my 1,500 pounds on the go. Luckily I knew I was not fussy in what I would eat and very good a finding my next meal. Ripe fruit, carrion, fish, bird, and even other reptiles were fair game to my hunting prowess. I could hunt on the ground, in the water, or anywhere edible food could be found. This was good since it could have been 25 million years since packaged microwave meals had gone extinct. Looking at my impressive claws it would seem that microwave cooking wasn't going to be in my future even if I could find one.

I also knew that as a day time predator I relied mostly on my eyes, ears, and sense of smell/taste to locate meals. I had tried out my legs earlier and found that my speed was mostly of the quick burst type. I tired quickly and relied on the fact that I could go through most heavy forest growth while my prey had to go around or over and thus were initially slower in escaping then they would have been in open ground. I was definitely in my element in this type of cover. Interesting that I was getting to experience for myself what I had only observed or suspected when studying animals as a zoologist in my other life. My other life. I could clearly remember myself but found myself really starting to merge with this new experience. Going with the flow or is this all a super dream of some kind. Oh well, I'll just see where this all goes.

As I wandered back toward the area around the lake the scientist in me noted that it was composed of dense semi tropical trees competing for sunlight like down near Alamos, Mexico. There was just enough light reaching the forest floor here to provide a fierce competition for available space and the undergrowth was thick. The exception was the well-beaten trails toward the water that also seemed to extend around the lake. I decided to scout the perimeter of this watery basin to see the terrain and survey my new kingdom. My instincts told me we were also looking at available prey. Moving by instinct in a clockwise direction I soon came upon several interesting scents. My long tongue, which I now noticed, was forked, flicked in and out of my mouth, as I tasted these new stimuli. Suddenly a long drawn out hiss escapes from my powerful jaws. My whole body sent tense and I started to shake. Something was wrong. And that something was what? Oh, better let my instincts take over. Danger/opportunity. There was another of my kind near by. But not close. The scent was faint. My thoughts were that this was intolerable. My fighting instincts were never far from the surface, it seemed, and I was prepared to unleash them. Again testing the air I decided they were stronger toward the slowly setting sun that-a-way and so started off in a rapid shuffle. I felt I was ready for anything in this new body as I settled into a brisk walking pace in the direction where I knew I would find another of my kind. But then my intellect started working over this situation. What if my adversary was much bigger or more skillful at fighting? And do we fight to the death or just check each other out and the loser walks away. There more questions than I had ready answers for. Okay, let's go get some answers.

Normally I was a silent hunter, but my instincts made no pretense of subtly now. I wasn't sure this was the wisest course but didn't know how to stop this machine that my instincts made me. Hearing me coming, all the other denizens of the area scurried quickly away from the paths I was using and into the surrounding vegetation toward safety. If I was in a hunting mood they would have been followed tenaciously through dense foliage, across streams, into burrows, and even up larger trees until my determination and ferocity caught up with them or they totally eluded me. That was the way. Nothing stopped this incredible biological; hunting machine in its search for a meal or turned it away from a kill once it had it. It didnít matter to it if some other creature had made the kill. It only knew that it must be his and so it was. This was his mood now as I searched for the adversary my senses told me lay at the end of this scent trail. The tell tale molecules lingering in the air told me that I was getting closer to the confrontation that could be bloody and violent. Was this what I wanted. Part of me screamed yes, but another part said wait a minute here.

The closer I approached my target, though, the stranger the scent became and the more prepared I was to do violence. Okay, its take control now or never get the chance. I stopped to let some of the fight hormones clear from my body. My head was pounding and a haze momentarily overcame my vision. Wow, just like getting out of a fight back in junior high. Excess hormone backlash. Slowly I got my body and instincts under control. I was determined not to rush into this.

Sure enough, I was getting conflicting readings. Something was wrong. I needed to scout this situation out. Something was not right with this scent. I stopped and tasted the lingering aroma again. My tongue flicked in and out of my mouth several times rapidly until I knew what was wrong. There were actually two related odors. A male of my kind and a female. Her pheromones said she was a young female about to come into heat and she should be just up ahead.

But where was the male. Across the shallow stream and up the slope beyond I continued searching. No, the scent was weaker. This was the wrong way. Quickly backtracking I turned up the stream. Yes, this tasted right. Another hundred feet and I could barely see a small clearing. There she was, sunning herself on a granite boulder jutting out over the gurgling stream. She was magnificent. She was highly desirable. My instincts screamed to go to her and if the other male got in the way to chase him off, to fight savagely for this queen. The sight and scent of her made me expand my awareness and desire multiple times. I must have her. She is everything I need in life. To me she is life.

Was this my instincts or intellect talking? Maybe both. But I can't give in to this rutting instinct. I had to be careful in this unknown situation. But I wanted her now. Nevertheless, my cautious approach won out.

I decided to circle the clearing and see if I could find the other male. Slowly and quietly I started the search. I was almost back to where I had started when a slight rustle behind me alerted me to his presence. I must turn and attack the one who stood between my queen and me. Instead of doing what my instincts said I quickly burst out in a sprint for the stream just below me. I could hear him right behind me. He was breathing hard but not gaining on me.

Dodge the tree, jump the log, and plow through the bushes. Almost to the water. There, as I hit the water a blinding spray hid me for the instant I needed. Flipping onto my back I pointed my deadly hind feet in the direction I knew he would be coming from. Sure enough, he dived straight to where he thought my fleeing back would be in the water spray. Instead he found massive six-inch claws which instantly raked his tender underside with long deep gashes before he was cart wheeled over the stream to land on his back among the thick bushes lining the bank. A classical karate maneuver except the claw bonus points.

Turning the fight over to instincts I found myself rushing over to him while he was still untangling himself from the shrubbery. Now I closed my massive jaws over the back of his neck and started to bite. Instantly he stopped struggling and collapsed limply to the ground. To my surprise I didn't bite down. Instead I shook his limp form a few times and then stopped.

The entire fight had been soundless until now. My foe emitted a high whining sound that I new meant defeat. One more shake and I released my hold but didn't move away. My former antagonist slowly started crawling away from me. After about ten feet of progress he stood up and shook himself free of debris and looked at me. He made a slight bow of his head to acknowledge my victory and then without further action simply turned and strode off into the forest away from the clearing and me.

Her head came up quickly when she saw me. She was larger than my own body I now knew as were most females of our species. Standing upright on stiff legs she clearly showed me her majestic size. Partially this was to impress me, but equally important I knew was to warn me in case I had any ideas of attacking.

She was truly what I had waited all my life to find. What am I thinking? She is a giant lizard, not a blond on the Riviera beach. No, a voice whispered inside my head, she is your mate. She is your other half and your true love. Go to her and become complete. Where once you were incomplete now you will be whole. The two shall be one. What matters the body, look at that soul.

Okay, I guess I can do that I thought to myself. My breath hissed out from between my sharp carnivore teeth. I almost dropped to the ground at the sight of the slender in front of me. Swirling rainbow colors that somehow I knew I could wrap myself in and complement. She really was my opposite half. I had never experienced this kind of feeling. It was part desperate longing and part hopeful rapture. It was clear to me that the form mattered not. I must go to her. My instincts kicked back in.

I now approached her bobbing my head and upper body up and down, up and down. She watched me cautiously from atop her bolder. Slowly, but then with more vigor as she warmed up, she started returning my bows and then suddenly jumped down beside me on the soft forest floor. Nipping each otherís shoulders and slowly turning in circles we started what I knew was the prelude to the mating acceptance dance. It must be done just perfectly and not just the moves. It gave us a chance to look at each otherís souls and see if we were compatible. I knew we were. But would she? I never wanted someone more in my life, human or otherwise.

Apparently she had sensed some flaw in her other suitor and turned him down flat. But he was large and so had hung around to drive off other would be suitors. And he had done so apparently for some time. Until my unexpected tactics had turned the tables and allowed me to try my dance for her.

Now it was the female who quickened the pace as she became satisfied with my so far ritual advances. She now started a courtship dance that was elaborate and difficult. She was incredible, I knew I couldn't hope to match this skill. This passion. Okay, I've got to try. Acting strictly via instinct I matched her move for move, but I could see she was starting to lose interest. Worse yet she was getting ready to drive me away like she had the other male.

No go, I said to myself. Wait, I'll bet she never saw the bossa nova before. I didn't know if I could do it in this new body. But I had nothing to lose. Step, step, bow, bow. Step, whirl, bow. What the heck, let's let it all go. I danced my frustration, my need for a true love, my loneliness, and my hopes. I threw everything I had into it. I danced until I was ready to drop. She watched me closely and silently.

And then she bowed to me and clicked her teeth. I knew that meant she was impressed. Back on instincts and we went side by side and started the mating ritual.

After a fast and furious few minutes we completed the eons old dance and just like that became a mated pair. The new king had his queen. My instincts told me we would stay together for several days while repeating the dances and mating rituals several more times and becoming bonded before we mated. I wondered just what that would be like and then suddenly I did wake up to the sound of low and deep laughter. Where was it coming from?

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