Spec World, or the Speculative Dinosaur Project, is a massive, massive world-building work in progress. It's basically an attempt to imagine how the world would be if the K/Pg Extinction Event hadn't happened 65 million years ago as seen from the perspective of dimension-hopping explorers and scientists from our world ("Home-Earth").
The best thing you can do is just start reading.note
The project has stalled out since 2008 (mostly due to unexpected discoveries in paleontology that made many of the concepts outdated) and there are many lost illustrations and broken links. But the imagination, wonderful creature designs, good biology (hallelujah!) and offbeat humor more than make up for it.
The project isn't entirely dead, as the Yahoo club shows. Also, some DA pictures from the staff like this suggest that, once the main site is updated, things will get very interesting... (A summary including some of the new ideas can be found here.)
- Artistic License Biology: In the earlier stages of the project it was full of this; there are still quite a few that are being fixed.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Species are named after Earth animals, fictional Earth animals, fictional characters... Justified, as scientists from our world are doing the naming.
- Dead Fic: Not entirely though; the Yahoo club is still functional. Its activity fluctuates. An archive of the project is currently maintained on the Speculative Biology Wiki.
- Death World: Many of Spec's lifeforms are overly dangerous (ex. there's a species of raptor that likes cutting people's heads off for no reason and penguin-piranhas that are so aggressive they'll even attack the moon) and a lot of animals and plants that want to either kill you or ruin your day.
- There's a type of venomous tree!
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: They're the main focus of the site (including birds), with other, less spectacular groups like mammals being ignored in their favour.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: You got your pretty normal lorises, galagos, and lemurs; and... you got your pokemuses, chillas, and tree foxes.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Penguins of DEATH!!!, ninja penguins, and just plain old penguins.
- Excuse Plot: The bit about scientists crossing from Home-Earth to Specworld. How they did it isn't important, just that they got there.
- Expy: Some animals are analogues of Real Life modern ones.
- Semi-justified that similar niches would probably be held by animals similar in appearance (i.e. the ciraf is an African high-browser like the giraffe - but the coloration is very unoriginal and it has a close relative that is very similar to the okapi).
- Feathered Fiend: Any of the predatory or aggressive coelurosaurs, particularly the penguins of death!!!, the cityfinches and the nerds-of-paradise (also known as the chunderbird).
- Giant Squid: The Baleen Squids, which fill the niche of baleen whales in Spec's oceans.
- Left Hanging: There are still several incomplete pages, incomplete descriptions and illustrations, and dead links that haven't been fixed.
- Loads And Loads Of Hypothetical Creatures
- Maniac Monkeys: Primates on Specworld evolved from lemur-like stock into small cat- or fox-like predators.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Many creatures resemble these. Scowls, basically owls with raptor faces, are among the cuter examples.
- Name of Cain: A noasaurid, and fastest predator of Madagascar. It kills and eviscerates its prey entirely with its hands. On an unrelated note it has a symbiotic relationship with a spider that protects it from parasites.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lots, examples include the imperial sabre-tyrant, the white ninja, the horned molok, the giant psycho-killer penguin of DEATH!!!, the king kronoshark, and the cockatrice. Among plants there's the Tree of Pain (ironically, animals don't actually feel pain when stung by this tree, they die before that).
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Crocodilians are the top predators of Madagascar and parallel species grow on average larger than on our world, while there are quite a few other types such as...
- The cuttercrocs; basically identical to "normal" crocodilans except that they have slicing teeth that leave much bloodier wounds.
- The crunchercrocs: hyenas if they were crocodilans, the carcass of a full-grown titanosaur will not exist after 3 days when a group of crunchcrocs find it.
- The croctiger and the croclion, huge, saber-toothed top predators of Madagascar.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot and Rule of Cool: The Spec ecosystem seems to run on these tropes. The thing is, it's still believable.
- Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Because Spec is an alternate timeline where dinosaurs still exist, it has to designate its "cryptids" differently. "Cryptids" in Spec are alleged, undiscovered species of dinosaurs and other creatures whose only reports are eyewitness accounts and unconfirmed sightings, and their existence is usually the topic of much discussion. Fittingly enough, most of them are expies of several alleged cryptids from our world.
- Ptero Soarer: Averted. Until very recently, this was due to the project simply not having any pterosaurs at all, as the creators initially believed they were declining prior to the K/T extinction. In the most current version, there are pterosaurs, but they are not numerous and exist mainly as flightless predators in Australia.
- Raptor Attack: Averted. While raptors are abundant, they are all correctly depicted with feathers, and most (though not all) of them are not pack hunters.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Specworld is not without these despite being a Death World. For example, the marsupial known as the sugar cat◊ is every bit as cute as its name implies.
- Shown Their Work: And how!
- Shout-Out: There are many pop culture references intermingled in the creature names and descriptions, most obviously the Alfred Hitchcock's Thebirds and a yellow mammal called the pikachilla from Spec-Japan.
- Speculative Biology: A whole site dedicated to what the world would look like if the Cretaceous extinction never occurred.
- Speculative Documentary: Err, website.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Zig-Zagged. Obviously, none of the stock species themselves show up, but many familiar groups do, including tyrannosaurs, dromaeosaurs, hadrosaurs, sauropods, ceratopsians, and ankylosaurs. The subversion is that the "modern" members of these groups aren't necessarily descended from the most famous extinct species—for example, Spec's ceratopsians are descended from leptoceratopsids rather than true ceratopsids.
- Take That!: Not on the main website, but in the spinoff The Saga of the Caripoo, Brian Choo mentions that he'd "rather watch Highlander II than meet another caripoo."
- This is also the reason why you won't find anything even remotely similar to a sapient creature on Spec; it's a silent protest against the idea of Dinosauroids (to the point where the group of dinosaurs to whom Dale Russel's absurdly humanlike Dinosauroid belonged is almost extinct!)
- Threatening Shark: The king kronoshark.
- Toilet Humor: A fair bit, most of it courtesy of contributor Brian Choo.
- Toothy Bird: Certainly, as several varieties of toothed birds have survived on Spec.
- Turtle Power: Including a lineage of turtles with breathing organs growing out of their butts and some colossal club-tailed ones.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Tyrannosaurs—implied to be descendants of T. rex itself—are the apex predators of North America and Eurasia.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Nerd-of-Paradise is a bird that uses its own vomit to subdue prey and fend off predators. It cannot be poisoned because it vomits out any toxins in its body.
- Zerg Rush: Cityfinches do this.