“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” – Haruki Murakami

Welcome to the future: the Year 2349

In the distant future, the year 2349 life continues (yes humans are alive), we continue living on earth (sorry if you all thought mars) in atmospheric controlled environments. Certainly, our mother earth is barren and life around us is nothing but a distant memory of nature’s beauty,  described only in books and videosThe man had progressed scientifically and had crossed the barriers of space and time. 

Storms raging, no way to keep track of day and night apart from the numbers ticking on a clock.

One day a kid asked me, what it would be to view a tiger in the wild. As they were viewing images online and reading about this majestic cat. 

Fascinated by their curious thought about, what it must be to glance at this beautiful feline. We had cloned tigers today but what these kids will never understand to witness a Tiger protecting its territory. Unlikely, not some unfortunate cat caged and subdued in an artificial environment. 

What to do? Tempted by this feeling,  made my thought about repercussions of time travel along the timeline of tiger evolution put to secondary.

Time travel along with tiger evolution

I have made up my mind, I am going to do it.

I gather the kids, and told them, ‘Listen everyone! We will be going on a dangerous journey”. But, nothing is worse than Homo sapiens.

We entered the booth. All of us squeezed tight. I shut the door, punched in the numbers ending 2019, location India.

Modern Day Tigers

After that, we were sucked into a vacuum and were traveling through a tunnel, at the end of which I could see green, I could see life.

Kaboom! we have been transported to the jungles of Central India the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger. (The Best place to see Tigers in India)

We all do a self-check and I take a headcount. All good, let’s explore!

Lucky for us in the year 2349 we have Mindycoat (Artificial intelligence robot)

Mindycoat has all the data about the flora and fauna of the time and we followed him in search of the orange and black cat.

The jungle was teeming with life, the kids and I were in awe and saddened at what we had destroyed.

We saw the hornbills flapping their wings in pairs, spotted deer making a run on spotting us. A pair of jackals resting under the shade of an ancient Banyan tree. In short, we had some amazing sightings.

Mindycoat informed us that the world was home to 9 Tiger subspecies. Of which only 6 were currently alive.

  • The Siberian Tiger
  • Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Indo Chinese Tiger
  • Malayan Tiger
  • South China Tiger
  • Sumatran Tiger
  • Balinese Tiger (Extinct)
  • Javan Tiger (Extinct)
  • Caspian Tiger (Extinct)

Tiger Evolution

 The Royal Bengal Tiger evolution

As we followed the pug marks we put our theoretical knowledge to test. The pug prints bared no nail marks (retractable claws cool!). There was an impression of the big pad on the sand. The size of the pad for the toes determines if the predator stalks a prey or chases it down. Similarly, cats have big pads, unlike dogs that have big toes.

We heard alarm calls of spotted deers (herbivores give warning calls on spotting their ambush predators) in the distance, it means the presence of a carnivore in the area. Mindycoat urged us to hurry and far in the distance we could see something big moving. It took a while for all of us to spot it but once we set our gaze on the movement we observed the tiger roaming free in his territory.   

The kids were asking, an animal that big wearing an orange coat (Tiger weigh on average between 180-250 kg) should be easy to spot, but Mindycoat explained that the orange is a good blend in the forest of green and yellow foliage and the black stripes further help break the outline of the animal. They resemble the shadows of the grass and leaves behind which the tiger walks, making the cat invisible.

Seeing the royal Bengal tiger

The stripes, the orange coat worked perfectly in a blend to conceal him, the padded feet allowed him to move through the dried foliage stealthily.

The tigers evolved as a killing machine. Keen sense of hearing, adept in the dense jungles. Night vision and a small snout for superior jaw force, useful for strangling and dragging prey much larger than the tiger itself.

I was as excited and thrilled as the kids on having witnessed this sight.

The tiger soon vanished in the jungle and curiosity and greed overtook us.

Curiosity added one more question in the minds of the kids. They wanted to know about who were their ancestors from which the modern-day tiger has evolved into an ideal killing machine. But, Were they more badass than the modern-day Tigers themselves?

I try and contain the enthusiasm among the kids. Above all, we must not use it any further. But the kids persisted and asked for  “one last time.”

‘Ohhhh what the hell, ok!’

Tiger’s Great Great grandfather here we come.

‘Everyone in the booth now.’ Punching in the numbers for 55 million years in the past.

Meeting the ancestors

We felt slightly sick. As a result of, traveling this far in the past. 

Due to the changes in weather conditions, the forests began expanding, as a result, oceans were receding and mammals had started to spread and had begun occupying the forest. The weather was warm and moist. The dinosaurs, the dominant species had gone extinct and this event set the stage for mammals to become the dominant life forms on earth.

Mindycoat spotted a Dormaalocyon latouri on a tree for us. A tiny mammal, with a long tail, snout, and feet adapted to living in the trees. Belonging to the family Miacids, these small arboreal carnivores are the earliest known ancestors of modern-day carnivores.

(https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140109-dormaalocyon-latouri-fossil-carnivore-science/)

As time progressed, climate and vegetation evolved and changed, the Miacids came down from their refuge on the trees and adapted to life on the ground.

The evolution chart:

MiacidsProailurusPsedalurusFelidae
(50 million years)(25 million years)(20 million years)(18 million)
(First true cats)(Modern day cats)

 

Tiger Evolution

 

A curious kid asked about the Sabretooth (Smilodon)? As they thought it was related to modern day tiger evolution. (Yes the kids have been watching a lot of movies, Ice age part ‘103 – life returns’ is just releasing in the future)

Mindycoat helped us with the facts that the Smilodon cat existed in the continent of America and was now extinct. As a result, we do not get to see their successor in the world we live in.

Natural history experienced firsthand.

Going Back to 2349

Ok, time to go back, cannot survive for long in the past.

We made our way back to the present, excited about the wonderful adventure we just had which left the kids discussing how life would be if the Tigers would still be alive.

Meanwhile, there was a sudden knock on the door, This time its police.  Oh Boy! I am in trouble now.

 

Sohel Suterwala

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Sharad Vats

Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered. Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park. Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here's a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger. Buy now on Amazon

1 Comment

Dawood Lokhandwala · 22/05/2019 at 6:33 PM

So true but this is inevitable …

Comments are closed.

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