A Pleistocene Ecosystem
by Wesley Gordon
page 37


The Fifth Scene

It is late summer. The big backwash is now a mud hole, and the bed of the stream entering and leaving the backwash is completely dry; its pebbles are covered with ghosts-gray, dried algae. The rolling country is seared as far as the eye can see. The only relief in this hot land is the shade of dull-green scattered oaks. Long ago the vegetation that grew along the steam was eaten away by many kids of animals.

You are to supply the animals and the events for this scene. The kinds of animals included will, of course, determine the action that takes place. The following questions may help you to select the proper inhabitants for this drastically changed environment:

Can evidence for the conditions above the found in the data compiled by Dr. Savage?

Would cannibalism help some animals to survive longer than others?

Did carrion-eaters have an advantage over other carnivores?

Could rodents survive by eating the underground parts of plants?

Would gophers or other rodents survive very long if there were no vegetation to cut? (Gophers and other rodents must continue to wear down their incisors as rapidly as they grow. Gophers do this in three ways (1) by cutting vegetation, (2) by carrying lumps of earth in their teeth while digging tunnels, and (3) by grinding the upper teeth against the lower to keep the cutting edges sharp. Gophers have four incisors. The yearly growth of each incisor is about 12 inches.)

If some rodents were at the backwash, would badgers be there, too


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