Jackalopes (genus Struthiodactylus) are small (15 - 40 kg) and fleet-footed ornithopods that roughly the niche of HE's gazelles. Thought to have evolved from antarctornithopods of possibly Indian origin, these animals are the fastest runners in the Spec Old World. Their adaptations to conserve water and survive night-time freezes has given them the upper hand in arid habitats, but elsewhere they have lost the competition to other ornithiscians and oviraptorosaurs. Three genera consisting of a total 9 species of jackalopes have been identified in Africa, India and the Middle east, where they inhabit dry savannas and deserts.

The name jackalope is thought to have been inspired by the way the animals leap into the air when evading predators such as the cheetaur. The kick of a jackalope can be lethal, but their horns seem to be purely ornamental, possibly used by the animals to identify different individuals within the herd.

Jackalope headgear. From top to bottom: axehead jackalope, pharaoh jackalope, golden jackalope.

The cheetaur (Tauropanthera velox) could be considered as the pinnacle of pantherbull evolution. These predators rank among the fastest creatures on spec, having evolved side by side with the nigh equally speedy jackalopes. This african predator is also the smallest of the priscataurs, only 4 meters long (half of this consisting of the tail) apparently also as an adaptation to hunt small and fast moving game. Cheetaurs are usually loners, but are sometimes known to cooperate with siblings or other closely related individuals. Despite this fact, a cheetaur will drive away or kill an unrelated individual if it catches one trespassing in its territory.

A cheetaur demonstrates how to best fall a jackalope: by pulling it's tail ;-)

The thornderk is a saurolope. Surprising, eh? It also has a flap of skin hanging from its tail that acts as a heat radiator.

The sugar cat or shofixti (Shofixti reichefordi) is a dweller of the rainforest canopy. Though it looks like a cross between a cat and a squirrel, it is a metatherian not unlike HE possums. The sugar cats were originally thought to be exclusive frugivores, but close observation has proven them to be opportunistic omnivores that will even occasionally raid arbronychosaur nests. Naturally these arboreal dinosaurs are also compete with the sugar cats for food, but the secret of the metatherians' success seems to be their prehensile tail that functions effectively as a fifth limb.

The shofixti are monogamous and live in tightly knit pairs that rarely leave each others's sight. The males are known for their downright suicidal attacks against any threat against the litter they've sired. If a sugar cat feels its nest is being threatened, it may go completely berserk and fearlessly attack an invader as large as a human being. Since the sugar cats have large curved claws and cutting incisors that can do a lot of damage even if the animal itself perishes in its desperate attack.

All material on this page is copyright © M. Aumala 2004