Dzhylga, Kazakhstan, Late Eocene.
One day, this will be a cold desert. But now, the old Tethys stretches itself, breathing in warm water from the Indian Ocean, and exhaling it int he Arctic. To the west, there lies a chain of islands that will be Europe; to the east, a fragmented Central Asia, warm seas spreading across what was a few decades of milions of years ago a cold desert dominated by dinosaurs, and that one day will be a cold desert again. But, again, in this warm world, the sea dominates, relaxed and calm, it’s warmth heating up all landmasses. This is the closest thing to Eden that Earth has ever experienced.
And the hints of the Dantesque frozen hell begin surfacing in the horizon.
For now, on this shallow sea, plains exist underwater. Seagrass expanses have appeared for the first time, colouring in green an ocean where the only plants were once seaweed and plankton. How ironic, that the water demanding plants only now decided to invade the sea. This suits the herds of sirenians and desmostylians just fine; one day, here, there will be grass, but it will be grazed by mammoths, relatives of these aquatic mammals, whose ancestors are now tapir like things in a swamp several miles to the south.
There are only two seasons here, a reflection of the land seasons: wet and dry. It is the wet season, when the rivers vomit freshwater in the ocean, and the Arctic defrosting feeds the Tethys. The grass is pleased, and so are the seacows, replenished by the amrita dropped by the Vishuddha of the continents.
Among the afrotheres swim early whales. They come in many shapes: the remingtonocetids look more like otters than whales, and have long, slender jaws like a gharial’s. Still having normal rhinariums like most mammals, they spend most of their time hunting fish and squid in these underwater plains, only the tip of their snouts surfacing like snorkels. A weirder whale is the Makaracetus: it looks roughly like a seal, though the long hindlimbs and tail are seperate, giving it a slightly frog-like appearence. More interesting, it has a trunk, just like an overgrown desman, which it uses also as a snorkel. Other passing whales have a similar body plan, though they lack snorkels, be them long jaws ending on rhinariums or trunks.
The most recent evolutionary experiment is Pelagoceti, whales that lost all their ties to the land. A lone Dorudon is one such example. It’s hindlimbs are small, useless for swimming and certainly useless for walking. These new whales have began replacing the seal-like forms, with only the slender-jawed and otter-like remingtonocetids and the mollusc specialist Makaracetus being safe from competition, for the moment.
The Dorudon is exhausted; it swam all the way from South America’s inland sea, where the breeding season took place. It is on the middle of a longer journey into Arctic waters, to take advantage of the summer bounty. His black upperside bears the scars of multiple mating mattles, white in colour, each year bleaching his body further. He rests near the surface, too tired to hunt, waiting for nightfall, when benthic squids and fish rise from the depths.
He is also awaiting for another phenomenon.
After several hours, the first evidence of this appears: a strange aquatic reptile, looking like a bizarre mixture between a marine crocodillian and a pliosaur, with a salamander and gar thrown in for good measure, comes from the waters to the northwest, presumably having swam it’s way from Europe.
The female Simoedosaurus touches the surface with the tip of her long snout, inhaling air, before diving, landing on the ocean bottom to rest, her lime skin combining well with the seagrass. She lays inert for several minutes; a perch-like fish passes by, and she snaps her jaws with such an immense force that blood and guts are forced out of the prey’s body. After swallowing, she swims upward, her jaw tips reaching the surface again, before falling off to the bottom, this time swimming slowly, taking a new hunting roost. The curious Dorudon approaches her, his head looking down as he remains near the surface.
She again makes a kill, only to have the whale lap the guts and blood expelled from the fish. Some remingtonocetids notice, and she displays her fierce jaws, threatning to use them on mammalian flesh. None of the whales leave.
Another Simoedosaurus appears, also from the same direction, remaining in a pelagic position, his snout skimming the surface from below, before eventually falling to the bottom.
More and more Simoedosaurus arrive, and soon are the most numerous tetrapods around, outnumbered only by the seacow herds. The remingtonocetids leave, intimidated by the enormous group, while both the Dorudon and the Makaracetus stay, though keeping some distance. Most of the Simoedosaurus rest at the bottom, surfacing occasionally; the schools of small fish are now in a minefield.
Suddenly, the Simoedosaurus males begin their mating bellowing, producing roar like sounds. They soon become long infrasound chants, spreading across the shallows. Soon, the water is filled by swimming Simoedosaurus: females being drawn to particular males, males chasing smaller males, et cetera.
Not too long after, the orgy begins, and continues for the better part of a day, animals spending most of their time either mating or resting.
By the end of the day, the water has white sperm clouds, attracting fish and squid, which in turn are eagerly eaten by the Simoedosaurus. The males retreat back into the northwest, starting the long journey back home. Some are already too exhausted, and cannot bring themselves to surface again. These are quickly eaten by the patient scavengers, including the females. They will stay here; their journey has just started.
3 months latter…