India. In this world perhaps not worthy of that name. It is indeed in the same tectonic spot, but the similarities end there. For the fauna is archaic, and the entire continent is covered in tropical forests.
The factor that differenciates this India the most from ours is the fauna. For one reason: grass. The Gondwanan island had harboured grasses since the Cretaceous period. Coming into the mid-Miocene, the plains were being pushed out by other plants into the northern wetlands. There, they managed to stay fairly successful on the northern coast. So when it collided into Asia, the Asian fauna had a barrier between the subtropical south Chinese forests, and the tropical Indian ones.
Being by that point the only grasslands on earth, none of the Chinease fauna were adapted to cross the barrier. In most situations like this the fauna would adapt. But this was different. For like any tectonic collision, here came the mountains. The Himalayas. In this timeline as in our own, they would grow to be the highest points on earth. This created a new wall. One not so easily passed.
Even then, many of the lower two or three main floral levels of the Himalayas (see below) ended up inhabited by leptictids, chalicotheres, among other mainland oddities. Yet, it is said history repeats itslef. Sometimes in more ways then one. Again, the grass barrier grew. And in the new battlegrounds, they thrived. Dominating at most altitudes of the range.
With the permenant double barrier in place, the Indian fauna was spared, unlike in our timeline.
Fauna at the SplitEdit
Little is known about Indian flora and fauna at the time, as the fossil record is very poor. What is known mostly comprises scrappy mammal remains. It however appears that the fauna was somewhat unique, with archaic cetaceans, even for the time, a diversity of basal members of various tethythere groups, and other groups with ties to the sea.
Inferences based on tectonic placement and faunal patterns should indicate a passerine group of some sort, paleognaths, various assorted southeast Asian birds and maybe some other amniotes (from southeast Asia). Spliting from Antarctica before the K–Pg, all amphibian fauna, as well as probably some of the sauropsids, presumably would have been stuck on the continent since its isolation. The passerine group will be called the Sylvvi, named for their mostly forest prescence, and by the habitat that covers the continent.
Inferred based on the same factors as the prescence of these two bird groups, it can also be inferred they would be somewhat or completely flighted. This is in contrast to their probable closest relatives, the Acanthisitti and the Apterygidae-Aepyornithidae clade respectively, which are flightless in modern extinct species and fully flightless in all extant species respectively. It is inferred that the Indian passerines are sister group to the Acanthisitti, and that either a common ancestor of the two clades or the basalmost members of the two clades originated in Antarctica or southeast Asia in the earliest to early Paleogene. The prescence of the Indian ratites is inferred because the Aepyornithiformes or their immediate ancestors flew across what is now the Indian Ocean from Oceania, to arrive in Madagascar. This would put them in immediate relation to, or flying over the top of, India. It's not inconceivable that they actually colonised India first and then at a later time flew to Madagascar, making the Indian form Aepyornithiformes proper. With predators around, the ratite wouldn't become flightless, and all remain flighted on the continent to the present in this timeline.
Brontotheres were also present at the time, thought these are extinct in the present, when the MTM covered the few open areas up with jungles. Now tethytheres fill most of these niches. Primates from the Cretaceous are likely to also have been around, thought as no fossil are known we don't know what they were like. Lastly, the Gondwannatheria was on it's last legs, restricted only to Antarctica and India. They were probably a major part of the fauna, thought this is uncertain because of a lack of fossils. Grazing forms may still have been around, in addition to predators. The former would go extinct soon if they were still aroun at all, the latter lasting until the nimravids arrived.
Dispersal before CollisionEdit
There were few dispersals in the history of India between the split and right before the collision. However, as water and wind currents favoured one way flights to India from South East Asia, some birds evolving after the split did make the journey. Two south-east asian groups stand out among the rest: Bucerotiformes, and Saadanioids. Bucurotiformes unwent a large radiation in South East Asia following the extinction of a few other bird groups, and following the already present hornbills more form arrived, and they make up yet another group of local birds, filling some of the raptor niches. True raptors also arrived, though they aren't very speciose, albeit successful.
The saadanioids are almost unknown from HE fossils, known from a single partial skull dating to the late Oligocene. However, they have a ghost lineage going significantly before the split. They were present somewhere in Asia at the split, and assuming similar aquatic abilities to modern primates rafting isn't out of the question. Therefore, arrival in India isn't that odd. They are highly arboreal, and grow to be among the largest primates in the timeline, some growing to over 400kg, more then the subfossil lemurs of HE.
There was of course two groups of animals that had no problem getting to the continent from China: The birds and the bats. In China, anseriformes had been having a large radiation since the split up to the MTM. As these forms spread out, many of them arrived in India, and they took over freshwater surface niches, pushing out some ratites and passerines experimenting in that area.
Dispersal after CollisionEdit
Because of the mountain and grass barriers, there was little dispersal between China and India. There were however, a few exceptions that got through. Most of these travelled by the coast, or simply passed through the grasslands and quickly leaving them. This means most asian immigrants are descendants of a select through individuals.
By the split, India was one of the last strongholds of the Gondwanatheria. Relicts from times long passed, they survived only in India and Antarctica, although were realtively successful in both. They held most large predatory niches in India. But they are not found there in the present. This extinction was the result of replacement by the most notable of the Asian immigrants: the saber-toothed Nimravidae.
These nimravids are early members of a group of East Asian-South East Asian group, the Theriodontidae. The Indian forms are descended from a group of around 53 individuals that had crosses over around 300 years. No other dispersal seems to have lasted 1000 years after arrival. Despite this, they are now diverse, thought they don't get as large as Theriodon or Donrex of China.
|Mammalia||Eutheria||Laurasiatheria||Artiodactyla||Cetancodontamorpha • Dichobunoidea • Ruminantia • Tylopoda|
|Ferae||Carnivora • Creodonta • Pholidota|
|Perissodactyla||Chalicotherioidea • Hippomorpha • Rhinocerotoidea • Tapiridae|
|Euarchonta||Dermoptera • Haplorhini • Scandentia • Strepsirrhini|
|Afrotheria • Leptictida • Xenarthra|
|Sauropsida||Aves||Neoaves||Passeriformes • Phorusrhacidae|
|Choristodera • Crocodylomorpha • Lepidosauria • Testudines|
|Habitats||India • South America|