Northern *New Mexico, ca. 9500 BCE
The whistling of birds masked the footfalls of the hunter as he trod gingerly through the scrub grasses. He had left home just before the crack of dawn, hoping to catch some unlucky animal unawares before the heat of the day began – and there it was, past the juniper trees in the clearing.
The beast was tall and ungainly-looking, resembling a misshapen deer more than anything else. Atop a long neck sat a proportionately large head, the beast’s dark, beady eyes turned away from the human as it browsed among the fresh shoots of a low-lying tree. Its feet were hidden from view by the grasses lying along the floor of the clearing, but the hunter knew from experience that its feet were broad and pad-like, looking little like the hooves of a proper deer or bighorn sheep.
Even in his father’s time, these long-deer had been common in the Lands of the Juniper, but increasingly their numbers dwindled, drawing away to the highlands of the great mountains and the distant south. The hunter considered it an omen of great luck that such a rare creature had happened onto his path. Licking his lips and squinting against the light of the rising sun, he readied his atlatl – and let fly.
The spear sailed through the air, and here something changed. Perhaps the sunlight had worsened the hunter’s aim by a hair. Perhaps the long-deer’s eyes turned to a different leaf or shoot. Perhaps a slight twitch of the hand or an unnoticeable buffet of the air had altered the spear’s course. Whatever tiny alteration had taken place, the spear narrowly missed the animal.
The weapon crashed through the thickets past the heretofore-browsing long-deer, creating a great racket and spooking the animal. With a terrified bleat, it wheeled, charging off into the juniper forest, and was gone.
Smacking his forehead and cursing his stupidity, the hunter went to retrieve his spear, deciding that the elusive long-deer was not a lucky omen after all.
And so, a single animal, who in our own timeline would have perished at the spear’s point, escaped to the company of his fellows in the nearby highlands. The young male’s genes passed into the gene pool of this previously-dwindling species of North American camelid, affecting the population just enough within a few short generations to pass on his speed and hardiness to his progeny.
Hemiauchenia macrocephala survived by a hair, and the continent would be changed forever.
Lands of Bronze and Llamas
A Domestication TL
A Domestication TL
I know I promised in my earlier discussion thread that I was going to wait to start this until my other timeline had advanced further or even finished, but the ideas have been swimming around lately (and I keep hitting practical blocks in working on Age of the Elephant) and I needed to put them out there.
For now this is just where I'll be putting forward my rough work and ideas, and as evinced by the horribly unimaginative title, is very much going to be a "version 1.0" of the ultimate product.
Any comments so far?