The ArcBuilder Universe


TimeLine of the ArcBuilder Universe


The First Galactic Civilization

363 to 160 million years ago


360 million years ago:  Seed ferns evolve, and begin to rapidly dominate the land.

330 million years ago:  The bizarre eurypterid Hibbertopterus evolves.  It possesses the ability to functionally move over land, although it is by nature an aquatic animal.  Inhabiting fresh water lakes and large, slow moving rivers, it feeds on plant material and animal detritus.  Living in small groups, it shows some of the earliest signs of cooperative group behavior in any major animal group.
315 million years ago:  A line of pre-sapient eurypterids, descendents of the Hibbertopterus line, learn to create artificial lakes by building dams from local materials.  Within these lakes they trap various animals and promote the growth of various plants, all species that are a food source for them.  With no terrestrial predators, there is very little need to expand on this behavior, though it remains a major step in their forward march to true sapience.  This particular species remains semi-aquatic, but has evolved for easier locomotion on dry land.  They live in large, interdependent communities, often with populations of several hundred.
312 million years ago:  The earliest known reptiles evolve, as represented by the genus Hylonomus.  Reaching a length of about 8 inches, it possessed small, needle-like teeth and fed on small invertebrates such as millipedes and early insects.  In general appearance the animal would have greatly resembled a modern lizard.  Living in the club moss forests of the time, these small animals are noted as often becoming trapped in the hollowed, upright stumps of the club moss and starving or drowning to death. 
308 million years ago:  Mammal-like reptiles begin to branch off from the main reptilian order.  The earliest known members of this group are the pelycosaurs.  While reptilian in appearance, their bodies were covered with a wide ranging variety of protective scutes, dermal body armor, or even naked glandular skin.  Some species of pelycosaurs evolved large and elaborate ventral sails, while most possessed differentiated teeth and early hard palates.  These would be the hallmarks of their mammalian descendents. 
307 million years ago:  The advent of a true intelligent eurypterid species.  Despite the seeming inconsistency with their appearance, they will be nicknamed "Bugs" by future Human paleontologists.  In form, they are almost entirely terrestrial, although they can live in fresh water for extended periods of time.  They possess simple lungs, but in the oxygen rich atmosphere of the time it is all that they need to facilitate their terrestrial existence.  Communities are constructed using a form of mud wattle  and daub technique, with buildings serving as single communal homes, storage centers, and meeting places.  The communities themselves are always founded near large and often artificial lakes, created by damming local water sources.

Bugs a re a truly communal species, with no single leader.  However, over the long eons they will slowly move towards larger forms of communities, easily described as city-states.  However, the rate of change is extremely slow, and the species itself will remain unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years.  While the Bugs do possess a sense of history, it is so repetitive and unchanging that it is highly compressed, and often laced with deep mythological symbolism. 
306.5 million years ago:  A Bug community of nearly three hundred sits peacefully on the shores of a modest artificial lake, created by the damming of a river several hundred years before.  For generations, this community of Bugs has lived peacefully, tending their herds and crops within the lake, while their small village of mud wattle and daub construction sat among the club fern trunks of the surrounding tropical forest.  Countless of other such communities are scattered across the continent of what would become North America, and all remain engaged within their predictable, almost entirely unpressured daily lives.

However, on this day, in this particular community, a massive earthquake suddenly strikes.  Several square kilometers of land, including that upon which the village stands, drops down nearly ten meters.  At the same time, the nearby dam is ruptured, its waters streaming outward in a brief but intense flood.  The Bug village is simultaneously drowned and covered with silt, until little remains but a barren mudflat, broken only by the occasional shattered trunk projecting upward through the sludge.  In only a few years the forest will reclaim the land.  The village itself, and its inhabitants, will remain buried and utterly forgotten.

In several hundred million years, however, under the plains of what will become known as central Illinois, coal miners will come across this particular strata, and they will discover the perfectly preserved fossils of the forest... and the village.  Most paradoxically of all, they will find the remains of the Bugs themselves. 
306.2 million years ago:  The greatest extent of Bug civilization is achieved when a series of eleven different community city-states become co-dependent.  Linked together by a river system that has become a large, dam-controlled waterway, what could be almost described as an empire boasts a population of nearly 2 million individuals.  Vast expanses of open land are flooded to promote the various plant and animal "farms".  Taking these into account, The Bug Empire encompasses several hundred thousand square kilometers.  The road to this point has taken nearly a million years, and little would change in the coming future.  The communities will continue to grow, populations will expand, and mud cities will come to cover the land, rivaling the farmlands in size and extent. 
306.1 million years ago:  The Tsubar'ey enter into the Sol System.  Long aware of the growing civilization of the Bugs, they have come to take a representative sample of the species into a sort of "protective custody".  They have predicted a bleak future for a species that has such short memories and long developmental times, and so they turn to Venus and begin to terraform that planet.  Using their massively advanced techniques, they tear down the hellish environment and create a second garden world in the Sol System.  Venus is seeded with life from the Earth, and literally sculpted into an ideal setting for the Bugs to enjoy.  Venus has become a living planet, and will continue to change and evolve, biologically and geologically over time, but its biosphere is self sustaining.  it will evolve, and the Bugs will evolve with it. 
305.8 million years ago:  A crisis is reached in the Bug Empire.  Populations have exceeded what the land can provide, and great sections of the vast, sprawling cities begin to fall to ruin.  There is no warfare, however, and the great culture is simply allowed to slowly disintegrate.  With only a short sense of history, past achievements are swiftly forgotten, and even the ruined sections of the cities are allowed to be swiftly reclaimed by nature.

It is at this point that the Tsubar'ey transplant a sizeable portion of the empire to Venus, its terraforming finally complete.  For generations the Tsubar'ey remain, teaching the Venusian Bugs more efficient ways of civilization, genetically tweaking them as necessary to ensure that the culture survives and advances, until finally they deem the Bugs fit to survive on their own.  The Tsubar'ey depart, leaving behind a culture on Venus that is roughly and comfortably within a bronze aged level of development. 
305.79 million years ago:  The Bugs of Venus have advanced rapidly, being genetically freed from their previous tendency of cultural and biological senescence.  Developing a high technological culture, they begin to expand into orbit, moving as far as establishing permanent colonies on their moon (established by the Tsubar'ey and named Neith by future Human astronomers).  Unmanned probes have examined the Earth and the other planets, and programs for crewed exploration are in the early stages.  The intercession of the Tsubar'ey has been forgotten as a factual event, but through mythology and the discoveries of modern Bug science, such intervention is suspected.

All of this comes to an abrupt end, however, and it happens literally overnight.  The Sun produces a major coronal mass ejection, perhaps the strongest in several million years.  The flare itself was observable from the surface of Venus as a brightening of the Sun, and the associated major sunspots had been visible for several weeks before hand.  The CME impacted with Venus directly, the result being catastrophic to their technology.  Electronic equipment across the planet was wiped out, with the infrastructure of the planet-wide civilization being tossed into shambles.  On Neith, inadequate shielding against such an event lead to the swift death of the colonial inhabitants there.  Bug civilization is effectively toppled, and it would never recover. 
305.7 million years ago:  The last descendents of the Venusian Bug civilization go extinct.  Existing in primitive societies since after the Fall, the species never managed to recapture its technological aspect.  In many ways the result was a society much like that of their relatives on the Earth, but much more fragmentary.  Finally, after so long, the species was overwhelmed by environmental pressures and disappeared entirely. 
305 million years ago:  The Carboniferous Rain Forest Collapse occurs on Earth.  Before this event, vast coal forests covered much of equatorial Euramerica, with biological diversity being somewhat homogeneous throughout.  The same species existed in the same biomes throughout the world.  As the Collapse began, however, these vast and unbroken forests became separated into "islands" of life, with large stretches of seasonably dry land between.  Plant diversity plummeted, and with it went animal diversity.  Tropical rivers flowed through barren lands, forming large and braided channels, moving huge amounts of sediments.  Extant communities were devastated, and in their places arose much different, varied biomes. The ancient and major families of amphibians were particularly hard hit, eventually being replaced by the much more hardy reptilian groups.

Among the communities lost to the Collapse were the last of the ancient sapient eurypterids.  Though they had never moved beyond simple city-state arrangements, their culture was quite old and very rich with tradition.  Different communities in different forested islands strove to maintain their ways amidst the radically changing environment, and so instead of adapting they slowly fell to those pressures and disappeared, one by one.  Lack of resources and seasonal droughts took their toll, until finally the last of the great wattle and daub cities lay empty, to erode away in the harsh climate of the period.  By the time that the climate began to stabilize and plant life began to return to the empty portions of the lands, nothing would remain that would indicate the Bugs had ever existed.
275 million years ago:  The pelycosaurs gave rise to the earliest therapsids, replacing them in most ecological niches.  Therapsids encompassed a wide variety of animals, including the earliest mammals.  These were some very successful animals, and would thrive until the Great Dying of the Permian Period, though some mammalian lines would survive all through the coming Mesozoic.  Later forms of therapsids would evolve a secondary palate, which allowed them to eat and breathe at the same time.  This adaptation was a strong indicator of a very active life style, including warm-blooded physiologies. 
251.4 million years ago:  The Great Dying.  Over 90% of all species on the Earth were wiped out.  While no single cause has been identified, several factors likely caused this most serious of all extinction events.  Most notably were the eruption of the Siberian Traps, where vast amounts of basaltic lava erupted and flooded over the land for nearly one million years.  While the majority of the eruptions were flood basalts, there is evidence of many instances of explosive eruptions as well.  Large methane emission events also occurred, released from oceanic methane hydrate deposits by the volcanism and the resulting global warming.  This would have only increased that warming, which would have brought about the release of more methane, and in the end a feedback loop would have caused an unprecedented amount of global warming, as well as a severe reduction of global oxygen levels.  In the end, the Great Dying was the one event in all of Earth's history where the planet came close to being completely sterilized. 
225 million years ago:  The earliest Dinosaurs evolve, being one of several groups that had begun to fill the ecological niches left empty by the Great Dying.  The world, even at this later date, was still recovering from that extinction event and the Dinosaurs were the most successful of the contenders for the inheritors of the world. 
220 million years ago:  The earliest true mammals evolve from the cynodonts.  These were small, shrew-like creatures, exploiting ecological niches left untouched by their larger contemporaries.  Most were burrowing creatures, warm-blooded, and likely suckled their young.  These mammals would remain largely unobtrusive for millions of years, overshadowed by the far more prolific Dinosaurs.

Gymnosperm forests dominated much of the land during this period, providing an environment suitable for the diversification of the Dinosaurs.  Among them were developing extremely large herbivores, as well as the smaller and more fleet-footed predators. 

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The ArcBuilder Universe is a science fiction project established, authored, and copyrighted ©
by John M. Dollan 2002-2016
This page first uploaded in February 13, 2016
Most recent update for this page February 13, 2016