Could we eventually uncover a lost civilization on the sunken Kerguelen continent? And if so, what might have been its fate?
By around 110 million BC the first portions of the Kerguelen island continent had appeared. Large portions of the island continent would remain dry land for millions of years, after which they would all eventually submerge to become one with the sea floor again (with the last disappearing from the surface around 20,000,000 BC). This article lists some developments possibly relevant to the Kerguelen island continent, and any intelligent lifeforms which may have arisen or taken refuge there.
ONE MINUTE SITE TOUR
BACK to a possible history of the Antarctic and Kerguelen continents: Kerguelen lost civilization contents...
The premise: An evolutionary development somewhat similar to apes-to-human occurs many millions of years before the rise of humanity. And rather than involving apes, this consists of a couple species from an independently evolved primate family (highly distinct from humanity's own primate ancestors)-- or pseudo-primate-- evolving into something else: something where one symbiont possesses a smallish humanoid shape and likeness, and human-like intelligence-- but is still a decidedly different species from 21st century humanity. The second species is something like a much smaller and less intelligent version than the first, which serves to complement the larger, smarter species. This symbiotic pair of species might live and thrive millions of years before humanity emerges on Earth. If such a civilization developed upon the Kerguelen continent (and rarely ventured beyond it), then about a million years afterwards all signs of the culture would have vanished as the entire continent sank beneath the seas. 20 million years of wear and tear since would mop up any remaining obvious clues, leaving 21st century humanity unsuspecting that such a people ever existed. Or that they might still survive today.
295,000,000 BC- 34,000,000+ BC: A Reptilian PrologueTo see the possible reptilian history leading to the development of this civilization please refer to Dinosaurs, Dragons, Loch Ness, and Reptile People. Where does fact end and fiction begin?
Approximately 34,000,000 BC+: Primitives of two different but both advanced pseudo-primate species exist in Kerguelen. They have evolved over 11 million years independently of the earlier Asian proto-primatesChanges in climate and other matters, as well as intense competition with other species, forced the ancestors of both proto-primate species and other originally Antarctic animals to migrate to nearby Kerguelen in past eons, as Antarctica grew colder and less hospitable. The relatives left behind in Antarctica are doomed to extinction. A considerable portion of this period spent by species moving between continents involves time spent near coastlines, both on land and in the water, as well as within swamps and marshlands. Both pseudo-primate species lose much of their hair along the way, as well as undergo other changes. The environmental changes are accelerating evolution in the two species. Both species start out pretty small. But over coming millions of years they will both become considerably larger-- though one much more so than the other. Eventually one will reach a size similar to that of a short human being on average, while the other will usually become no larger than around one to one and half feet tall while standing upright. Neither species ever possesses a prehensile tail.
The increasingly isolated Kerguelen continent is developing its own unique lines of pseudo-primate forms, relative to the rest of the world. 21st century human observers would note several significant differences between the pseudo-primates of Kerguelen and the proto-primates of other continents.
Approximately 34,000,000 BC- 33,000,000 BC: Antarctica's massive ice sheets begin to form
Is much of the Antarctic environment today something like the tundra of 20th century Alaska, or still warmer and more lush than that? Antarctica boasted tropical rainforests during some periods-- is this one of them? Or perhaps Antarctica possesses some regions of temperate environment, including deciduous forests similar to those USAmerica will display during the 20th century? In any event, note that the ice sheets are beginning to form now-- they do not yet dominate the continent. And so perhaps much of Antarctica at this time resembles North America prior to the Ice Age glaciers moving in.
Approximately 33,000,000 BC- 28,000,000 BC: The reptile progenitors and provocateurs of Kerguelen change the course of evolution on the continentPast events have led to the emergence of a unique species of reptile in the region. These reptiles enjoy chameleon-like natural camouflage, as well as shape-changing capabilities similar to a cobra's hood or bird's wings.
Indeed, they began as brothers to prototype birds, utilizing their crude wings as devices to increase running speed, allow longer jumps and falls without injury, and even glide short distances.
Their unique feathers, balancing tail, and physical technique make them among the fastest two-legged runners in the animal kingdom-- at least over short distances. They may cover longer distances in a loping, half-gliding practice, but at slower speeds. Somewhat flat and open terrain offers the running reptiles their best speeds-- which makes much of the Kerguelen continent ideal for them.
The reptiles may travel on all fours but often stand erect, on two legs, with a balancing tail. This frees up their forward limbs for uses similar to later human hands and arms, and over time their forelimbs develop in such a manner.
But as birds travel the road into the sky, these reptiles go the other way-- into the ground. At least in daytime. Their tendency to seek refuge underground stems from the evolutionary advantage such habits bring in surviving the periodic tsunamis suffered by their great island, and the maintenance of their long-time nocturnal hunting and scavenging practices. The animals are larger and heavier than most successful flight-worthy birds will ever be. Though their greater size robs them of future flight capabilities, it also allows them a bigger brain than their future bird relatives.
They maintain their natural geomagnetic navigational sense from earlier migratory movements, as well as the avian ultra-violet visual perception. Both these help them become masters of subterranean places.
Their nocturnal nature also allows them to roam and prey upon the surface during the night.
They are omnivorous, capable of feeding on plants or fungi and mushrooms in a pinch, but preferring large insects, fish, or small animals.
The reptiles may spit irritants, which causes a burning sensation on exposed flesh, and can temporarily blind and disorient prey, making capture and kills easier.
They somewhat resemble Komodo dragons with longer, more slender tails and hind legs, standing erect, with feathery folds draping their arms or forelimbs, and trimming their tail. Two striking differences with 21st century Komodos however will be their frequent erect two legged walking stance, and their more bird-like in appearance head and neck, as opposed to reptilian look. Their eyes are also proportionately larger to their face than a Komodo's, and their brain case considerably larger. Large dual ridges or crests run down the upper sides of their heads and necks. These features are larger in males than females, and thus perhaps partly sexual decoration. But they also help enhance the animal's hearing and sense of smell, both directionally and distance-wise (in an unusual design, these reptiles have two sets of scent detection nerves in their skulls; the largest branches off their ear canals, while the smaller pair operates in the more expected region of the head-- the 'nose').
Erect, these creatures stand four to six feet tall through their youth. If they get beyond the age of 15-16 years, they may grow much larger. However, competition prevents most of the reptiles from getting that old.
The reptiles grow ever smarter as they get older, but they also grow larger and slower, and often become so large they become stuck in their underground hiding places, and either starve to death, to be eaten by other lucky reptiles who find their carcass (sometimes this is their own young), or become sufficiently weak from hunger in their trap that they may be easily killed and consumed by other, smaller reptiles.
The reptiles can swim, but it is not their preferred mode of travel in their early days.
These smart reptiles are not social beasts, but highly individualistic, which limits how far any related society might advance. It also puts restrictions on reproduction.
One of the reptile's favorite foods is fresh pseudo-primate meat. Something with a taste and smell somewhat similar to that of later human beings.
The relationship between the reptiles and Kerguelen pseudo-primates first begins with the pseudo-primates being a natural prey animal. In their early history in Antarctica, the pseudo-primates rarely grew larger than an average 20th century house cat-- but such a size range made them offer almost ideal-sized meals for the reptiles. Over time however the primary Kerguelen pseudo-primates grew bigger and stronger and smarter, making it harder for the young reptiles to catch them (older and bigger reptiles could outsmart and trap them on occasion, but were too slow to capture them via speed). As this struggle between the reptiles and pseudo-primates escalated, the intelligence and capacities of both appreciated in response-- eventually leading to semi-sentience in both species.
The older, smarter reptiles gradually began to maintain their own trapped families of pseudo-monkeys near or within their den, breeding them as food stock. This was much easier than tracking and capturing them in the wild, as well as reduced the need to compete directly with other reptiles. Female reptiles especially liked a snack of pseudo-primates meat before sex, too.
Some of the older, smarter reptiles eventually begin to realize they may lengthen their own lives and increase their sexual success through judicious use of domesticated pseudo-primates. The pseudo-primates can act as sentinels against attacks from other reptiles, gather fungi and plant food, and act upon the surface in daylight when the reptiles prefer not. They may also help maintain and gradually enlarge the reptile's burrow to prevent entrapment, and seek out new and larger burrows if necessary. They can be bait to trap other reptiles, and even help kill other reptiles at times. Plus, they offer a ready supply of meat too, as desired. Suitably trained pseudo-primates will actually help capture and deliver one of their own to feed their reptile master. To the reptile, this training is simply discipline; to the monkeys, it becomes something akin to a crude religious offering or sacrificial ritual.
Eventually the wisest and most powerful reptiles have amassed small armies of personal pseudo-primate slaves. These slaves tend to harass and watch the slaves of other reptiles, often orchestrating assaults upon same, leading to the capture of enemy pseudo-primates. Some of the captured pseudo-primates are eaten by the master reptile. But many become slaves of the reptile's own pseudo-primates, thereby setting up a multiple level hierarchy in the burrow and surrounding lands. In some cases the pseudo-primates eat their slaves, in emulation of their master reptile. However, such cannibalism is usually only ritualistic, as the pseudo-primates prefer certain forms of vegetation as food.
The health and obedience of the pseudo-primates in the burrows is partly maintained by weaker, less promising monkeys (or injured, sick, or less obedient ones) being eaten by the master reptile on a regular basis.
The great master reptiles take little notice when a new, tiny pseudo-primate species begins to interact with the reptile's near human-sized pseudo-primate servants. The servants are delighted with the creatures, quickly adopting them as pseudo-children, and giving them preferential treatment much beyond that offered the captured slaves of their own species.
The master reptile can barely detect the presence of the tiny pseudo-primates, and has no interest in them as food-- they are too small, with far too much bone for what little meat they provide.
The playful, experimental nature of the servants' interaction with the tiny pseudo-primates, plus the real functional complements the tiny beings offer to the servants' own abilities, as well as the increasing complexity of the society developing inside and around the reptile burrows over centuries, then millennia, then longer, eventually lead to breakthroughs in the servant pseudo-primates' understanding of the world and themselves.
Which does not bode well for the master reptiles.
The reptiles and pseudo-primate people go their separate ways
Eventually the pseudo-primate servants become smart enough to cast off their masters, killing many of them in their burrows, before they (the pseudo-primates) leave the burrows behind forever. However, the feudal system impressed upon them by their master reptiles sticks, forming the basis for the pseudo-primates' own new society-- one of a few elite families, each commanding hordes of slaves. The pseudo-primates have effectively been genetically engineered to feel comfortable with such a social hierarchy during the time spent in thrall to the reptiles. The tiny, secondary pseudo-primate companions which helped trigger this new evolutionary stage also stay with the larger pseudo-primates, spreading throughout both the elite and slave populations.
As for the reptiles, their populations tended to expand somewhat at the height of their pseudo-primate enslavement era, but in the aftermath of the pseudo-primates gaining their liberty as well as slaughtering many of their former masters, the reptile population suffers a substantial decline.
The reptiles split into two separate species
After this debacle, the reptile species tends to split into two, differentiated mainly by number, size, lifespan, and potential intelligence. The first and most numerous consist of smaller reptiles (two to six foot standing erect), retaining their great running speed, gliding abilities, and enhanced jump and fall capacities. These small reptiles also retain their feathery trim. But they lose much of their previous potential for intelligence, now plateauing at roughly that of a 20th century adult chimpanzee-- or slightly better. They also lose much of their previous lifespan potential, with the new small species eventually rarely living longer than 20-30 years.
The second variant retains the longer potential lifespan and greater ultimate size, still transitioning from small, fast, and dumb to large, slow, and smart. But it loses most of its plumage as it ages. Its numbers also decline drastically, to not much above that necessary to retain breeding viability in the population. Elders among the second variant eventually learn to abandon their underground burrows before they outgrow them, and take to the water to avoid the direct light of day. Their unusual hearing mechanism also begins to adapt to a more marine existence. Mounting pressures from inland and subterranean killings of the reptiles by the monkey people accelerate this process. The newly aquatic reptiles prefer fresh water in the beginning, but over the eons some evolve a tolerance of salt water as well. Again, the long term inland killing campaign by the ever more efficient pseudo-primates encourages the adaption to the sea, as inland freshwater ways eventually become too dangerous for the large, slow-to-reproduce reptiles to inhabit.
The extra folds of skin which once combined with feathery trim to allow faster ground running for younger, smaller beasts, now gradually evolves into a form conducive to high speed maneuvers underwater instead.
The beasts remain air breathers, and so must surface periodically like whales or dolphins. However, they retain their preference for subterranean spaces, and so usually seek out underwater caverns and passages in or about their favorite bodies of water which also offer suitable breathing opportunities for them.
Both species retain their camouflage capabilities. Both expand upon their nocturnal ways, and maintain subterranean preferences of one sort or another.
Over time the numbers of the large reptiles dwindle still further, and each member becomes ever more isolated in the world. However, various environmental and genetic coincidences serve to allow many of those remaining to explore the furthest reaches of their lifespan potential. That potential appears roughly equivalent to 120 to 150 years, perhaps longer. And the greater the age, the greater the size. Sixty to ninety feet in length is not unusual for a male over the age of 60 or 70. The water's buoyancy allows the creatures to become larger and live longer than they ever could on land.
Another lucky break for them is a quirk of genetics that allows the two ever more diverging species to still successfully mate, at least when the larger species member is still young and small. Their progeny sometimes turn out to be of the small species, sometimes the large. This exotic circumstance sometimes makes for a total extinction of the large species in certain regions of the world, for centuries at a time-- but then eventually a new representative appears, seemingly out of nowhere.
For the most part, the older a larger species member gets, the smarter it becomes. However, as there is little or no social interaction between large reptilian members, and progeny are abandoned at or near birth to make it on their own, each individual must start from scratch learning about the world. Thus accumulated knowledge is repeatedly lost with every new generation. This means even a genius reptile is severely limited in its effect upon the world, or what it may do for itself.
Virtually the only social interaction between adults occurs between sexual mates, and this only perhaps once every several years, at most. Some interaction occurs between parent and child too of course; but it is relatively brief. Some isolated members may go without socializing with others of their species for decades.
A few attempts are made by some elder reptiles from time to time to domesticate various sea life such as seals or penguins to act as new servants and domesticated fodder, similar to the role played by the Kerguelen pseudo-primates previously (no, no elder reptiles are aware of the monkey episode by this date; they are all coming up with this idea on their own). Unfortunately for the reptiles, no success comes from the effort.
Both the larger and smaller editions of these reptiles were originally native to the Antarctic and Kerguelen continents and coastlines. They managed to spread beyond those borders however by the time both Antarctia and Kerguelen were no longer habitable.
The Kerguelen pseudo-primates successfully wiped out the large reptiles on Kerguelen long before the exodus to space-- though not in the surrounding sea. Plus, the smaller version was much more difficult to eradicate. But the sinking of the continent almost did the trick for the smaller species, as few members were capable of the swimming feat required to reach the nearest habitable dry land from the doomed continent. However, as the giant reptiles easily roamed the world, and occasionally reproduced themselves as the smaller species, that's largely how the smaller reptile species managed to survive the sinking of Kerguelen to eventually reach and populate every remaining continent on Earth but possibly for their iced-over original homeland of Antarctica.
Approximately 28,000,000 BC- 21,000,000 BC: An advanced symbiont civilization arises on KerguelenIts development has required considerably longer than later humanity's will, due to several factors. If the Kerguelens cared to, by 21 million BC they could now trace their lineage back for over 13 million years-- or twice the span which will separate 21st century humans from chimpanzees.
One striking difference between this society and 21st century humanity is its symbiotic nature on an individual level. An individual Kerguelen is considered to be the sum of the primary being and his or her secondary selves. That is, every Kerguelen possesses at least one small pseudo-primate companion which is much more than a pet: it serves as extra eyes, ears, and hands for its master. The companions are sufficiently small so that several may often cling to a Kerguelen as they walk, without undue encumbrance.
The companions are considerably smarter than the dogs of 20th century humanity will be. They comprehend substantial portions of Kerguelen language, although they cannot speak them. This comes largely from their extended co-evolution with the Kerguelens over millions of years.
Note that there may have been something of the 'Jared Diamond effect' helping the pace of evolution and technological development, first on Antarctica and later on Kerguelen. The widely shared latitudinal status across each land mass of its time, plus the vast expanse and diversity of Antarctica, and the repeated long term refreshment of the gene pool from the other continents in eons past, could all have enabled such an effect, in theory.
Living and working closely with multiple tiny and capable companions this way has helped the average Kerguelen primary mind to develop a level of intelligence comparable to that 20th century humans will someday possess. But it would be a mistake to consider Kerguelen minds the same as human minds. For their co-evolution with their secondaries has made for subtle but significant differences between how Kerguelens and later humanity will think and act.
For one thing, Kerguelens tend to be calmer, and more objective and deliberate in their thinking and actions. Perhaps due to the constant presence of their secondaries allowing them to enjoy a greater scope and range of perception, and flexibility in coping with events. They usually get more warning of approaching danger, and possess more options for dealing with it, than later lonely human beings will. The Kerguelens also do not suffer so much from the sting of loneliness and burden of unused mental capacity which will afflict humanity-- for the secondaries mean they are never alone, and the frequent need to supervise the secondaries sops up the extra intellectual energies which will often lead humanity to seek alcohol or other means to both slow their mental wheel spinning and blunt their personal loneliness. The endless need to keep their secondaries busy also leaves the average Kerguelen somewhat more ambitious than an average human being, always being on the lookout for some new or bigger job to which they might devote themselves and their secondaries over coming hours, days, or weeks.
In some ways these elements may have led to the average Kerguelen also possessing a more long term perspective on the world than the average 20th century human will.
The Kerguelen society is isolated from the rest of the world, partly because of the vast oceans surrounding them on almost every side by this time, and the icy wasteland to the south. They also developed early on into something somewhat similar to the human oriental societies of China and Japan-- cultures which tended to discourage far ranging exploration outside their own borders. There were also no other peoples on the planet to come to the Kerguelens to pique their interest in the outside. They were alone on Earth.
The Kerguelen island continent over millions of years gradually becomes cooler, though the prevailing wind and sea currents of the time help prevent Kerguelen from sharing the more frigid fate of its more southern Antarctic sibling. Kerguelen's climate slowly comes to match that of 20th century northern eurasia in some respects, and its flora and fauna adapt (or die) accordingly.
The Kerguelens possess a low reproduction rate overall, primarily due to their societal structure. Its feudal nature means that the vast majority of Kerguelens are essentially slaves or peasants. These lower classes are allowed to reproduce only sufficiently to maintain present populations, or the status quo. The elite too do not reproduce prolifically; reliable means of birth control had been discovered very early in the society's emergence, and been used religiously for a variety of reasons since. Thus, there are little or no population pressures for expansion beyond the borders of Kerguelen.
All Kerguelen females and children (both peasant and elite) lead severely subugated and sequestered lives. This practice helps maintain the male elites' control over reproduction as well as insure the proper attitudes in the young-- children learn to think not of their biological predecessors as their parents and masters, but rather the elite. Loyalty is to the state (or estate), rather than the immediate family. Virtually all non-elite males are slaves/peasants from the moment of birth.
Another factor which helps discourage much Kerguelen exploration of the outside world is their deeply ingrained preference for fresh food, and their largely vegetarian nature. The Kerguelens do on occasion eat meat, but only in small portions, if at all. They are heavily dependent on a particular family of plant for the majority of their foodstuffs, which had once grown in profusion in this area of the world, but over the eons has begun to demand more care and cultivation to be produced in the quantities desired. This was yet another factor in the Kerguelen tendency to control population numbers from an early time-- it enabled them to insure adequate food supplies for minimal cost.
Of the few expeditions which ventured beyond Kerguelen to other spots around the globe (mostly sea islands, which would later be scrubbed clean of all evidence of visitations over the millennia by nature), the majority had been food-related. The Kerguelens had taken samples of food from remote spots and found them wanting. They had also tested their critical primary vegetable(s) in these other locales to see if they would grow there, with no success.
The shifting climatic fortunes of this time worldwide are fast reducing the size of the region offering the necessary conditions to support the main staples of the Kerguelen diet. Plants which once naturally grew abundantly over both Antarctica and Kerguelen, as well as many nearby islands, are disappearing from the area, with ever more intensive cultivation efforts required simply to maintain yields at levels comparable to the past.
Yet another reason perhaps why the Kerguelen never strayed far from their homeland was a lack of personal loneliness similar to that which will be experienced by many, perhaps most, human beings in a later age. The Kerguelen's unique symbiotic relationship with their personal pseudo-primate companions from early childhood tends to make the average Kerguelen much removed from the desire for or thought of others. This factor may also have played into the tight control on reproduction of the race in its later millennia. For the small companions tend to fill a role for the average Kerguelen similar to that which children and/or pets will provide for later humanity.
In the earliest millennia of Kerguelen civilization, the periodic inundation of virtually the entire continent every 3,000 to 29,000 years or so by a super-tsunami or hyper storm surge had served many times to radically reshape the elite leadership, while also substantially reducing the Kerguelen population as a whole. This eventually led to the most powerful elite typically controlling the highest altitude real estate on the continent-- the only places usually unaffected by the monster ocean waves-- as well as possessing better controls on the reproduction rates of their slaves than the other factions. These super-elite would enjoy a larger number of flood survivors during these events, plus be able to ramp up reproduction rates quite rapidly for several generations, in order to rebuild their strength. Later the rates required slowing again to avoid food shortages.
Over time the highlands became less important to the elite for several reasons. One, their slave population as a whole simply became too large and immobile to use the highlands as a suitable refuge anymore. Two, allowing too large fluctuations in reproduction rates led to the downfall of some elite, as they lost control of their slaves (such events forced other elite to confront and regain control of such masses-- a most inconvenient and messy affair). Three, the Kerguelen began to learn how to blunt the impact of the floods, with sturdier building construction, dikes and dams, secure, water-proof underground bunkers, and robust surge alert systems. Their earliest efforts diminished the almost annual events of normal storm surges on coastal settlements. Later, they tackled larger once-in-decade type surges; then once-a-century; next once in a millennium events. Finally, after passage of untold generations, they managed to permanently protect themselves from the once-per-3,000 to 30,000 year tsunamis and hyper-storm surges.
Once the longer period tidal waves no longer were a factor in the society, the elite were able to consolidate their hold on power to an extraordinary degree.
The Kerguelen culture had very early on stratified into a feudal system of a few hundreds of elite families essentially owning and controlling the entire nation and its population. Wars were occasionally fought between these factions, but trade occurred near continuously. War and trade became the main engines of innovation on Kerguelen. Eventually education also became more widespread, even among the peasants, as the elite discovered its value to innovation, and thus to war and trade.
However, education also brought with it strains on the control of the elite over the nation's peoples. At first they allowed some loosening of rules so that the peasants too could profit from some forms of trade, to reduce discontent and chronic shortages. When this surprisingly increased wealth for everyone, the elite carefully expanded the principles to certain other areas of life. Thus, the Kerguelen economy grew, and its technology advanced.
But the power of the peasants grew too much, and finally the elite were forced to use their new and growing technology base in another way: ubiquitous surveillance and censorship. This worked for a while to keep the peasants under control, but eventually this too began to fail. The elite had prepared for this eventuality with the development of new and better technologies. By that point they had learned how to transform the rabble into efficient and intelligent slaves unblighted with the flaw of free will.
The Kerguelen mind control techniques, developed over literally thousands of years, eventually proved unbreakable in near 100% of cases. And what few peasants managed to overcome it were either brain-damaged or too few and isolated to make much of a difference in the culture. Organized resistance to the status quo had become pretty much impossible.
The lengthy gestation of the Kerguelen mind control techniques was typical of Kerguelen technological progress. For innovation and change were two things that usually proceeded very slowly in Kerguelen-- when they occured at all. The severe oppression of the vast Kerguelen majority was likely the main reason for the perpetual slow motion of progress. Slow progress, among other things, meant it was easier for the elite to maintain control. Another reason was the satisfaction of the elite for the most part with the status quo. The elite were born, lived lives of great luxury with only occasional need to tend to administration of the peasants, then died, to make room for the next generation. By old age the elite were usually ready to go, their lives tending to be not very interesting anymore after decades of perpetual wish-fulfillment (refer to the article Playing God for more insight on this point).
For the most part the Kerguelen elite were not a curious or ambitious group. And since the elite determined almost everything the entire race did, this lack of elite curiosity defined all the Kerguelen; for the peasants had very little say in the matter.
Largely only when the status quo was threatened in some way did the elite take meaningful action, or express a desire for some sort of change or new ideas.
Thus, technology change (and so economic and social change too) was usually slow on Kerguelen. Sometimes thousands of years would pass before a new innovation would be implemented in a particular technological niche. But if and when the elite felt troubled or threatened, the rate of change could accelerate dramatically.
One reason big changes could occur rapidly when the elite so chose, was that a very old policy (first implemented to reduce discontent among Kerguelen intellectuals, as well as keep them busy at matters non-threatening to the elite) required thorough documentation of all significantly different ideas and practices discovered within the nation (except for ideas deemed religious, philosophical, or otherwise seditious in nature). Thus, the libraries of the elite were eventually overflowing with unimplemented and untested ideas, accumulated over hundreds of generations. But when the elite chose to seek a solution to some new ill, scholars would be directed to peruse the vast catalog accumulated over generations for possible answers, and test the best of them. Often with all the resources of the elite themselves at their disposal.
Thus, when times were ripe, Kerguelen society could witness dramatic technological changes just as fast as the elite could modify social policies to assimilate them.
Of course, the usual slow and plodding nature of Kerguelen research and innovation also made it very vulnerable to being blindsided by things like climate change, extreme acts of nature, and the consequences of industrial pollution and accidents. The Kerguelen elite were reminded of this almost every generation by some staggering catastrophe of some sort-- such as tsunamis and industrial accidents which killed at times hundreds of thousands of peasants. But as the elite were rarely affected, and the cost of changing their policies to prevent such events could be high, the elite never moved to correct this flaw in their administration.
Another element which contributed to the perpetual maintenance of the status quo on Kerguelen was the hundreds of disparate elite kingdoms. Barring the occasional random accident or calamity devastating one or more of the states, they typically all possessed rough equivalence in most meaningful measures of power, strength, and alliances with others. This fact too helped maintain the balance of power on the continent, millennia after millennia. However, as time passed, random accidents and natural calamities tended to slowly reduce the total number of independent elite states on Kerguelen. Usually it was a tsunami which severely wounded a coastal state. But earthquakes and industrial accidents could do the same on coasts or inland either one. After such a wounding, the state was typically partitioned by its stronger neighbors, and the elite of the now dead state either taken in by elite friends or family, or else added to the general peasantry. This latter fate was by far the most fearsome to all the elite.
This slow attrition among the Kerguelen elite families gradually concentrated ever more power into ever fewer hands, and further tightened the elites' control over everyone else.
Approximately 25,000,000 BC: Massive volcanic eruptions may be occurring in the region of Antarctica's Ross Sea-- perhaps even affecting global climate; Kerguelen climate is surely changed somewhat by the event
It appears that the climatic effects of eruptions in this region will more strongly affect areas in or near the same latitudes as opposed to others. Thus, despite being almost on the other side of the world from the eruptions, Kerguelen is likely affected.
Note that catastrophic climate changes which fall short of driving a given species into utter extinction may actually accelerate the process of evolution in regards to that species. At least this will seem to be the case with humanity and other species later. Is it possible that certain Antarctic/Kerguelen species are now being accelerated evolution-wise via such a mechanism?
Approximately 25,500,000 BC - 20,000,000 BC: Milankovitch cycles in Earth's orbit help bring about worldwide climatic fluctuations during this period
Approximately 23,000,000 BC: For roughly 200,000 years now the entire Earth experiences a 'toning down' of its seasons; extremes of heat and cold are reduced worldwideUnder these conditions Antarctica likely experiences substantial growth in the area and thickness of its ice sheet.
Approximately 22,000,000 BC: A veritable explosion in the numbers of primitive ape species inhabiting Earth takes place
Could the same factors promoting such a flourishing of human primate predecessors at this time also be aiding in the evolution of the Kerguelen pseudo-primates?
Approximately 21,000,000 BC- 20,000,000 BC: The Kerguelen elite realize their world will eventually vanish, and begin a frenzied effort to insure their survivalThe general Kerguelen neglect of the environment and many scientific fields left the Kerguelen shocked and unprepared when they finally reached the realization that their entire land was slowly sinking beneath the sea.
By this time the Kerguelen possessed a rough equivalence with future 22nd/23rd century humanity in some technologies, if not all. Yes, despite their near continuous stagnation in this regard, their occasional spurts of innovation over a period of many hundreds of thousands of years had not left them utterly at the mercy of fate. On the other hand, had they progressed as quickly as humanity will later on, over this span they could have dominated a good portion of the Milky Way galaxy.
But the Kerguelen elite simply had no idea of the staggering wealth and power their policies of stagnation had denied them. For their relentless suppression of innovation or new ideas (but for where such suited them), had rendered them blind to the potential of a future in space-- at least so far.
For the most part the rulers of Kerguelen were slow and cautious-- except for those times they felt threatened.
But now there loomed a threat bigger than any elite had ever imagined possible.
Rarely had a majority of the Kerguelen elite so joined in the past to overcome a problem, as they did now. Nearly the full resources of the entire civilization were soon directed at finding a solution to their dilemma. And they didn't have much time (at least from a Kerguelen perspective).
The Kerguelen elite loathed the disastrous scenario facing them. They hated change. Yet soon the only choices would be to change-- and change big!-- or die.
A multitude of crash programs were implemented by the elite, in search of a possible way to stop or else cope with the coming calamity.
Once again expeditions were sent to the far corners of the Earth to find another place their unique food would grow. Labs worked feverishly to set up artificial environments where the plants could be cultivated, so they might be grown anywhere.
This burst of research into many diverse areas revealed more disturbing news for the elite. For the first time they realized that there was a connection between many elements of climate change, and unpredictable volcanic eruptions worldwide. They also realized that some of the strange sky observations documented over hundreds of thousands of years were smaller worlds of ice or rock impacting the Earth at sufficiently high speeds to make for devastating explosions and sometimes tsunamis and immense fires as well. If anything, the things falling from the sky could be worse than the volcanic eruptions in their unpredictability and possible effects on the world.
And apparently the skies were filled with such objects.
Eventually the Kerguelen elite saw both their present and future as sorely beset, no matter where on Earth they might go. Even if their own continent were not now sinking, in light of this new knowledge it was doomed sooner or later anyway. Everything on the planet, it seemed, was vulnerable to sudden and devastating change-- often with no warning at all.
Thousands of different plans were considered and discarded. The best elements of many often were combined to form wholly new schemes.
It became apparent that the peasantry would have to be largely left to die on Kerguelen. This would mean the elite would lose the age-old source of their wealth and privilege (the mostly enslaved population). Plus, all the wondrous architecture of glittering Kerguelen palaces, cities, and homes, built up over a million years, would have to be abandoned.
The elite did not accept the likely loss of their wealth and power easily. They demanded of their scholars and scientists that everything somehow be replaced, even possibly improved and expanded upon, in whatever plan was eventually adopted.
Finally, slowly, a wondrous new plan began to emerge from the tattered remains of prior ideas. At last, artificial means to grow their food and produce the other necessities of life were found. So they could truly live anywhere.
But replacing or even expanding the wealth that would be lost-- and doing so as rapidly as the elite demanded-- that was a much more difficult goal. Eventually though, this too came to be resolved.
Indeed, there was only one way. One way to rapidly regain the flow of real resources required to support the elite in the manner they demanded, as well as placate them until the flow was back to previous levels or better. Only one way to do all this even after some 95% of the Kerguelen populace had been left to drown. Only one way to guarantee that the Kerguelen elite would never be forced to face such a large degree of change and possible loss again.
The Kerguelen would have to leave Earth. For only in space were available resources that caused the entire Earth to pale by comparison. Asteroids and comets represented wealth beyond imagining-- so long as the race did not have to worry about the objects raining atop them in miscellaneous disasters. And in space the resources were much more accessible too-- at least once one had escaped the gravity of Earth itself.
In space, the arbitrary nature of Earth's biosphere and geology could no longer affect the plans of the elite. Not one, but several entire categories of variables could be removed from the equations leading to stability and wealth.
As for the minimally disrupted life of leisure and wealth the elite demanded, lavish virtual reality technologies and sophisticated robotics and artificial intelligences could fill in the gaps. The robots and AIs would also take the place of the lost peasants. As an added bonus, tracking and control of the robots and AIs would be far simpler and less costly than the same tasks had been for millennia in regards to the peasants.
The new, largely virtual palaces of the elite would consist physically of well appointed modular housing units which could link up with other units, or into a central community hub in the near vicinity. Each unit could operate as an independent craft for centuries if need be, its occupants in cryogenic stasis to preserve supplies and lengthen lifespans where necessary. Each craft possessed its own nuclear reactor. The housing units and the community hub were moved into certain Lagrangian points-- some of the most stable orbital locations in the solar system. The elite communities were spread over several different Lagrangian points, rather than grouped into merely one.
Serving as guards for the elite communities, as well as a bridge between them and Earth, was the fleet. The fleet also provided the crew quarter craft, and for various contingencies as foreseen in the project plans.
The fleet was usually considered to include all the crew quarters craft (veritable cities in space), of which there are six. These space cities aren't very maneuverable. Eleven other large craft, which in exterior looks closely resemble the space cities, serve as military hubs and carriers for smaller craft. They possess better propulsion systems than the cities. Around 80 destroyer type craft, 120 repair vessels, several hundred freighters, and miscellaneous lesser craft round out the initial fleet deployment.
Of course, the bottleneck in the project was getting all the elite and sufficient support resources into orbit to realize the plan. Though they had possessed a variety of means to reach orbit for many centuries, only one proved suitable for the enormous mass required for the present venture. Huge linear accelerator ramps were constructed across the Kerguelen landscape, culminating in vertical towers built to the maximum heights Kerguelen technology allowed. Supplemented by precision directed laser beams, and all powered by nuclear reactors, these served to throw transport capsules high into the atmosphere, where the lasers would light the underside of the capsules, flashing to steam a thick layer of ice prepared there, and propelling the capsules sufficiently high so that other craft already in low orbit could capture and move them into the final positions desired.
Four major Kerguelen construction projects would have to take place in orbit: first the construction facility/station; next the immense housing complexes for fleet crews; then the grand modules of personal living quarters of the elite. And finally, the fleet itself. As all the highly refined materials making up the original construction facility were very valuable, once all necessary craft were built, tested, and launched on their way, the construction station itself was meticulously disassembled, and its material stored away or put to other use.
Of course there were literally billions of various size and shape bits of debris left over from all this work in Earth orbit over thousands of years-- but within less than 100,000 years almost all of it would be destroyed as decaying orbits led most of the items to fiery deaths in the atmosphere, while others found themselves ejected far from Earth by various gravity tides and collisions with other objects. As for the handful of objects which did not totally disintegrate during re-entry, Earth's biosphere finished the job of dissolution, over the following tens and hundreds of millennia.
Of course, radioactive remnants like rocket exhaust wakes, spent fuel, or other tiny bits of debris from these operations-- and a low mass enabling much of them to stay aloft for eons, and lengthy half-lives in terms of their radioactivity-- might remain in or near Earth orbit for a very long time to come.
The ambitious construction projects required some 4500 years to complete to the elite's satisfaction-- roughly 60 Kerguelen elite generations (the elite Kerguelen enjoyed lifespans and related matters somewhat improved over that late 20th century humanity will sometime later). Near the end many Kerguelen cities were already awash with inches of sea water, and many coastal peasants were fleeing inland despite orders to the contrary.
The Kerguelen did not ignore the need for contingency plans. Before their continent disappeared beneath the seas they excavated enormous underground vaults there in which to store considerable supplies and tools should a return to Earth ever prove necessary or desirable. It would not matter if they were at the bottom of the sea. As it was nearly impossible to hide the location of the vaults from the peasantry constructing them, the vaults were heavily fortified and protected against intrusion.
The elite had told the peasants that large numbers of them could be taken deep into the wilderness of Antarctica and frozen for later awakening when the space Kerguelen returned. Special barges were set up on the southern coasts of Kerguelen where those who wished it could be put into a special preparatory state prior to freezing, then transported en mass to the special Antarctic facilities. In truth the peasants were being quietly poisoned by the millions as they streamed in, their bodies then packed tightly into weighted containers and dumped into the sea by the new robot technologies developed for the conquest of space, and largely unknown to the majority of the Kerguelen peasantry.
Peasant women and children were the main people accepted into these barges at the time, as their husbands/fathers typically were still required as laborers in the great exodus effort. The men were often comforted by the belief that their families were now safe from the rising waters threatening the continent, plus no longer suffering from the food, medicine, and services shortages now afflicting the nation, in the final decades before exodus was completed.
The Kerguelen elite only maintained the barge charade in order to prolong the availability of an orderly society on Earth in the last decades of the evacuation, in case a need for further supplies or labor popped up at the last minute for the fleet. Once it was verified that all ties with the continent could be cut, and/or panic and anarchy took hold of the stranded population, the Kerguelen elite triggered previously prepared explosive charges in the immense dams and dike works which had shielded the continent from storm surges and tsunamis for almost a million years, but now, increasingly, were holding back a rising global sea level. The ocean came pouring in, drowning perhaps as many as 200 million peasants within hours.
Other explosives were used in the Kerguelen highlands to trigger releases of poisonous volcanic gas to kill any higher altitude survivors, as well as lava flows which could also kill, but were mostly planned to destroy any and all useful but exposed artificial works and supplies in the highland areas, as insurance against any future rebuilding of an alternative Kerguelen civilization by some tiny group of peasants which might make it past all the other measures. This was considered necessary as scholarly projections indicated that a considerable area of Kerguelen's highlands might remain as dry land after the rest of the continent drowned. And if by some miracle a few peasants survived to realize what had taken place, they might eventually grow into a new nation of most unpleasant enemies for the elite to deal with later. This simply could not be allowed to happen.
The enormous launching facilities were also destroyed at this time.
The hidden Kerguelen continental caches would be useful to the elite if the continent surprised everyone by rising again in some future century; for then it would facilitate a reclamation of their homeland as a center of Earth-based operations (the Kerguelen had no intention of a full-scale return to Earth unless forced into it by unforeseen circumstances). Keep in mind that launch limitations severely restricted the mass they put into space-- therefore there was plenty of supplies available to put into the caches with negligible extra production for same required. The Kerguelen also made great effort to disassemble much of their continental infrastructure which might otherwise be lost to corrosion or other forces undersea, and place the components into the protected vaults.
Another contingency element was the fleet. It was there to monitor the solar system and Earth for any unanticipated threat to the elite, as well as to prevent one elite faction from attacking another without warning. The fleet also served as a way to retreat back to Earth if necessary. In extremis, the fleet could also serve as alternative housing for the elite if their own quarters suffered damage or failure, and the fleet crews were living organ donor banks for the elite as well, should the elite's most advanced medical technologies fail them.
The elite had not been entirely happy with the plan. From their perspective the worst element was the fact that the fleet crews themselves could not be subjected to the full mind control techniques utilized previously on Earth. Ubiquitous surveillance and censorship, yes; complete mind control, no. The reasons included the balance of initiative and free will with motivation, intelligence, loyalty, fear, and respect which was required for optimal fleet operation and fulfillment of their various missions for the elite. As much as two thirds of the fleet crews could be 100% controlled, but the other third required a certain degree of freedom of choice, due to the nature of their jobs, and the considerable uncertainty the new space environment would pose for the Kerguelen for at least the next several million years or so.
Still, the elite enjoyed hundreds of thousands of years of knowledge and recorded history regarding mastery over their peasants. As well as formidable technological aids. So there was little chance of the fleet rebelling against their masters easily, or soon.
But the small window of freedom provided by the demands of the Kerguelen leap into space would eventually lead to events unplanned by the Kerguelen elite.
For instance, the fleet society subtly began to change from its original nature, as the centuries, then the millennia, passed.
This, despite the many safeguards implemented by the elite. Despite even the periodic calling upon of random elite members to check on the status of the fleet crews. Such elite were typically annoyed to be pulled from their virtual paradises to deal with administrative details, and usually did not look very hard at the reports and monitoring options they were given at such times. When they did closely scrutinize the fleet, the fleet itself often took measures to minimize their displeasure and concern. Rarely did an elite order major changes to operations, or summary executions or full mind control onto a particular crew member during their observations-- but it was always a possibility.
Approximately 20,000,000 BC: The last remnants of the Kerguelen island continent in the southern Indian Ocean slowly sinks to the bottom of the seaTwenty million years from now it will be known to submariners as part of the "Kerguelen Plateau", and lie two kilometers deep. But for millions of years previous to the present sinking it was a large piece of dry land on Earth.
Note that the previous boom in ape species two million years earlier means apes existed simultaneously with the last couple of million years of a dry Kerguelen continent. It seems that at the very least Kerguelen offered its animal residents an evolutionary environment similar to Australia/New Zealand of the same period, with perhaps some intriguing marsupial and flightless bird species and other exotic evolutionary niches all its own. Kerguelen may even have been an evolutionary paradise in some respects.
One caveat about higher life forms and evolution on the Kerguelen continent however was its mostly low altitude and featureless plains. There was little in the way of terrain features to protect Kerguelen life from raging sea storms or tidal waves spawned by earthquake, volcano, or large meteor strikes during the land mass' dry span. Thus, the continent may not have offered a level of bio-diversity comparable to New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, or better, after all-- or, alternatively, the periodic wide scale destruction may have served to accelerate evolution on the continent (it's a toss up).
It seems there would be a chance that some early forerunners of primates developed on or otherwise found their way to the lost continent, since Kerguelen enjoyed land links of one kind or another to virtually all the other southern continents at various times over the millions of years it existed as dry land.
Some of the links on this search list may be helpful in visualizing the size and location of this continent that Earth loses now to the sea.
Approximately 20,000,000 BC- 3,000,000 BC: Little changes for the Kerguelen fleet; Fleet society and technology is very slowly changing to adapt to their life in space and somewhat looser restrictions upon personal freedoms than the culture has ever enjoyed beforeFor millions of years the fleet performs their jobs: periodic maintenance of elite housing, resupply, and long range monitoring and patrols for possible threats. Along the way they manage to automate many of the jobs, making less work of what was little work to start with. Many, many generations of crews are born, live, and die aboard the fleets, in service to the elite.
The greater free will and possibility for change in fleet society as compared to their previous Earth-locked ancestors makes for an increased pace of innovation among the fleet Kerguelen, compared to that traditionally enforced by the elite upon past generations.
One of the proscribed fleet tasks involves occasional surveys of Earth itself. Over time the fleet adds to this some visits made solely out of curiosity. After all, after the fleet craft, Earth is by far the most interesting and accommodating place in the solar system. Mining the asteroids and comets is dirty and boring work. Watching the sulfur volcanoes of various moons, or swirling storms of the gas giants gets boring too, after a while. Everything outside the fleet in space is dead, or nearly so. Except for Earth. And the amazing lifeforms of Earth easily outshine the meager portions originally brought with the fleet from planet-side.
The Kerguelen fleet mines the Kuiper Belt for ice and more over all these millions of years. Though the Belt begins as an enormous resource, even it is not inexhaustible. Over time (the past seventeen million years and the coming three million) the Kerguelen will manage to deplete the Belt of the majority of its comets.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Note that by far the principle resource a space-living race might require would be water-- that most essential factor for supporting life itself. Water can also be conveniently split via solar power or other methods into hydrogen and oxygen: or rocket fuel and breathable air as well.
For this reason it's likely a space-living race would prize comets much more highly than plain asteroids-- as comets usually possess large quantities of water ice. And in choosing comet mining first, the space farers wouldn't really be giving up anything: for the cores of comets themselves are often very similar to asteroidal material in composition. So comets are simply the best of both resources-- at least for most purposes.
Unfortunately, any civilization of the critical mass in size required for self-sustenance (or larger) couldn't afford to merely wait for years, decades, or centuries for random comets to naturally fly deep into the Sun's gravity well for them to mine. No, they would almost certainly travel to some large natural grouping of comets present within their home system, if such existed. In our own solar system, there's two such bodies: the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt. The Oort Cloud is an unimaginably vast spherical cloud of comets enclosing our solar system. This immense resource exists very far out in distance terms from our central system, however. Plus, the bulk of the spherical shell lies outside the plane of the ecliptic of the system, thereby making its exploitation potentially very time (and fuel) consuming.
On the other hand, the Kuiper Belt is much closer, and its contents mostly within or near the plane of the ecliptic, thus making it the preferred and logical choice for any race which begins its life in space from inside the solar system itself.
The less satisfying nature of fleet rations with the food once eaten on Earth also eventually affects the preferences of the fleet Kerguelen. Among other things, they begin to desire more meat in their diet.
Not very much changes among the Kerguelen over the eons. Their spacecraft technologies gradually improves, no thanks to the elite. The fleet Kerguelen slowly begin to form their own more natural and hospitable culture apart and different from that of the elite and the original Kerguelen peasant society of Earth. Change comes very slowly however, under the constant automated surveillance of the elite, and their periodic random checks of fleet operations.
The Kerguelen possessed no significant interstellar-capable spacecraft at the time of the escape from their sinking continent. And with the elite more or less satisfied with their accommodations, not much is allowed in the way of breakthrough space propulsion R&D. Sure, the old laws catering to intellectuals which encourage the complete documentation of new ideas or discoveries still applies-- but the available population of intellectuals shrank considerably when the majority of the Kerguelen population was left Earth-side. Biological engineering and astronomy were some robust fields of Kerguelen study, but not new ideas in space propulsion. At least not yet. For no one had come up with a credible case to the elite that the solar system itself might disappear or run short of resources any time in the next few 100 million years or so.
Some slight anxiety had existed for a time when the elite Kerguelen were made aware of the possible existence of other, far more advanced races in the galaxy by their scholars. But after millennia of careful monitoring no indisputable evidence of such beings had been found. And so the anxiety had lessened, and the funds for research in that field been mostly moved elsewhere. Plus, if push came to shove, there were last resort plans in place for the fleet to move the entire Kerguelen space presence from Sol system to a neighboring system-- but it would be a painful and agonizingly slow process, requiring millennia, and forcing the vast majority of space Kerguelen to travel in stasis to minimize demands on consumables. Most of the elite would oppose following that course in all but the most dire of circumstances.
[Please refer to CONTACT! Alien Speculations: The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy for more information regarding the subject of extraterrestrial civilizations.]
Thus, while the Kerguelen fleet enjoyed slight improvements over time in their functionality and performance, the first generations of crew which had manned the vessels millions of years before would scarcely have noticed the differences.
Copyright © 1993-2011 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.