The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

FAN: Discuss various fictional worlds that don't qualify for SF.

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Majin Gojira
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The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-08-18 11:13pm

An Alternate History thought experiment...

Okay, I'm workshopping the idea to see how well it can work, possibly for a novel.

The idea is that the events of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" were based on real events, but not exactly. We're updating the science to what we know about dinosaurs today (feathers, mesothermic, etc.).

The plateau is a Tepui elevated roughly 500ft above the surrounding jungle and swamp and crosses the borders of Venezuela and Brazil, made of basalt around the edges with the occasional cave peaking out (and a few waterfalls). It has the same area as New Guinea, and it is very hard to get to.

Obstacles to getting there are, of course: the sheer cliffs, Amazon jungle (including some nasty swamps), and the winds the cliffs can kick up.

It's been known about for a while, but a place feared by every indigenous group living around it. Saying it's home to the gods/evil spirits/monsters/etc. It's been known about since the age of Conquistadors, but the first people to A) find a way up and B) come back alive happened only in 1906 with the first Challenger expedition.

On the plateau are all sorts of unique animals and plants, most spectacularly are non-avian dinosaurs and formerly prehistoric mammals and birds of the Miocene South America. I'm hesitant to go into specifics, but let's just say most of the 'stock' is there either through convergent evolution or direct ancestry as far as dinosaurs are concerned. They are, in general, better adapted for turns, smarter, and more 'refined' than their prehistoric ancestors.

Aside from the animal and plant life being of a prehistoric age, there are other resources. Because of its volcanic nature, there are diamonds in the rocks there, but they are only of industrial quality at best. Operations were attempted in the 1910s, but the low quality and the Great War ended that enterprise. Beyond that, I'm leaving things up in the air.

How does the discovery of such a place change things in history? It won't be much, but how people react to this place alone is worth discussing, I think.

Because I only really have one idea on that front, but it's a doozy.

"Pablo Escobar's Megalosaurus."
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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-18 11:26pm

Well paleontology probably becomes a lot more prominent of a science. Expect that area of the Amazon to become more developed, there are going to be scientists hotfooting it there en masse and they're going to need a logistic chain. Wouldn't be too surprised to see airstrips chopped into the top of the plateau before too long. The primary resource available from this plateau would be knowledge and exotic pets. Possibly smuggling eggs of the herbivore species down for attempts at domestication, imagine how much meat you could get off an Apatosaurus.
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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-08-19 12:04am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-18 11:26pm
Well paleontology probably becomes a lot more prominent of a science. Expect that area of the Amazon to become more developed, there are going to be scientists hotfooting it there en masse and they're going to need a logistic chain. Wouldn't be too surprised to see airstrips chopped into the top of the plateau before too long.
Well, if the winds didn't inhibit flight that would happen. The other attempts, maybe. But remember, it's still hard to get to (and Challenger is a terrible curmudgeon and wants to keep the entrance a secret).
The primary resource available from this plateau would be knowledge and exotic pets. Possibly smuggling eggs of the herbivore species down for attempts at domestication, imagine how much meat you could get off an Apatosaurus.
A cow reaches slaughtering age at 3 years old. A sauropod, while providing much more meat, needs 14 years to reach 'full size' or at least. A longer weight for greater reward.
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Supernatural Taisen - "[This Story] is essentially "Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened?" Followed by explosions."

Reviewing movies is a lot like Paleontology: The Evidence is there...but no one seems to agree upon it.

"God! Are you so bored that you enjoy seeing us humans suffer?! Why can't you let this poor man live happily with his son! What kind of God are you, crushing us like ants?!" - Kyoami, Ran

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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-20 02:30pm

Re: your last point... 'slaughtering age' isn't necessarily 'full size', they kill pigs at ~6mo or so pretty regularly. If a sauropod reaches cow-size by 1 year old, they might well decide to butcher it at that age, particularly if it tastes better while young anyway.

What would be really interesting is the switch in how prehistoric art goes. With truly realistic dinosaurs around, we might see a fairly powerful paradigm shift in how dinosaurs are depicted. The Jurassic Park film would resemble a flock of giant prehistoric chickens ;) well perhaps not so literally but it definitely wouldn't be the same, and we would understand dinosaur anatomy much better.

The real-world impact of this would be minimal, of course, but it's still fairly neat.
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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-08-20 02:53pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-20 02:30pm
Re: your last point... 'slaughtering age' isn't necessarily 'full size', they kill pigs at ~6mo or so pretty regularly. If a sauropod reaches cow-size by 1 year old, they might well decide to butcher it at that age, particularly if it tastes better while young anyway.
Possible, Dinosaur growth rates are weird. Sauropods in particular.

I mean, this is the growth curve for Apatosaurus.
Image

Sauropods like Apatosaurus apparently didn't get a growth spurt or apparently pass 1K pounds in 5 years. But then, well, it balloons.
What would be really interesting is the switch in how prehistoric art goes. With truly realistic dinosaurs around, we might see a fairly powerful paradigm shift in how dinosaurs are depicted. The Jurassic Park film would resemble a flock of giant prehistoric chickens ;) well perhaps not so literally but it definitely wouldn't be the same, and we would understand dinosaur anatomy much better.
Or they would be done with "trained" raptors.
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Supernatural Taisen - "[This Story] is essentially "Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened?" Followed by explosions."

Reviewing movies is a lot like Paleontology: The Evidence is there...but no one seems to agree upon it.

"God! Are you so bored that you enjoy seeing us humans suffer?! Why can't you let this poor man live happily with his son! What kind of God are you, crushing us like ants?!" - Kyoami, Ran

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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-20 03:28pm

Not knowing very much about dinosaur biology besides what one would pick up in middle-school-oriented artbooks, I'll escort myself out of that particular discussion; 'twas just a thought which I'm not really qualified to explore :)

That said, while there are some interesting avenues that could be taken, realistically IMO I think the most impactful consequences of a 'Lost World' discovery would be scientific, particularly in the larger discipline of biology as relating to paleontology (could it really be 'paleo' if they're still around?) and archaeology. While that could have trickle down effects to some degree, I don't see it being a particularly world-changing event.
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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by madd0ct0r » 2018-08-20 03:57pm

Sod air strips, think a funicular railway running up brackets fixed in enormous timber/steel wdeges into the cliff. We built them elsewhere.

There would be a lot of cachet in recovering live animals for a zoo. Following the same trajectory as polar bears and elephants today, we'd probably have sections of safari parks dedicated to 'Plateau Drako" enviroments. I'm going to assume that since South America had no effect on the world wars this plateau dosen't change that. Did Brazil and Venuzula ever go to war?
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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-08-20 04:56pm

madd0ct0r wrote:
2018-08-20 03:57pm
Sod air strips, think a funicular railway running up brackets fixed in enormous timber/steel wdeges into the cliff. We built them elsewhere.
Possibly, but given the air currents, the harshness of the locality, it would be still quite hard. I suspect one wouldn't even attempt to build one after the World Wars at the very earliest.
There would be a lot of cachet in recovering live animals for a zoo. Following the same trajectory as polar bears and elephants today, we'd probably have sections of safari parks dedicated to 'Plateau Drako" enviroments.
It might be slightly easier given some of the animals can be captured as eggs and transported that way. Though how often this happens depends on how easily they are bred in captivity. IE: if they can be breed, they could boom in population rapidly.

But generally it is routine to capture young animals rather than adults, and dinosaur eggs tend to be emu sized overall (the largest is about the size of a football).
I'm going to assume that since South America had no effect on the world wars this plateau dosen't change that. Did Brazil and Venuzula ever go to war?
From 1964 until 1985, there was a military takeover of the Brazilian government. Not a war, but it would restrict things by its very nature.

Venezuela is a lot more volatile. with military and democratic rule vying off and on for a lot of the 20th century. 1973 saw an oil boom but it became a dictatorship in 1998, and has a long history with drug cartel problems, leading it to its current state.
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Browncoat
Supernatural Taisen - "[This Story] is essentially "Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened?" Followed by explosions."

Reviewing movies is a lot like Paleontology: The Evidence is there...but no one seems to agree upon it.

"God! Are you so bored that you enjoy seeing us humans suffer?! Why can't you let this poor man live happily with his son! What kind of God are you, crushing us like ants?!" - Kyoami, Ran

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Re: The Lost World, a Real Place (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-20 05:23pm

Starting as early as 1906 would potentially butterfly-effect a lot of those, though.

In particular, the US was starting to push its imperialist interests during that time; they became rather more pronounced after WWI, but nonetheless you're going to get them trying to get a piece of whatever pie is baking in Brazil. So scientific competition may be fairly intense, depending on how much traffic there is. Dinosaur diggers were literally popping off the occasional shot at each other in the American West; who's to know what might happen over actual live beasties?

There's also the potential for discoveries *other* than all the dinosaur stuff. This would open up a lot of attention to the Amazon in general, and it's quite possible that, for example, scientists unable to get all the way to the plateau might decide to make the best of their situation and explore around the jungle for whatever they could dig up.

So, who knows. If the plateau is deemed scientifically significant enough, it might well be that the US decides to intervene in Brazil in order to get their own scientists an edge. South America isn't globally significant other than in terms of the rubber trade and a few other agricultural products at this time, so I don't know that the European powers would be interested in intervening themselves, and they might decide the US is easier to work with than the Brazilians or whomever.
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