So in the light of the ridiculous "Titan Dolphin" here's my idea for flying cetaceans replacing The Future Is Wild's flying critters:
1- Five million years ago, a lineage of cetaceans acquires the habit of flapping its forelimbs while porpoising. Over time, the flipper replaces the tail as the main propulsor, leading to penguin-like cetaceans (gannetwhales).
2- Over time penguin-like cetaceans develop progressively larger flippers, allowing for true powered flight. Cetaceans are already mildly exadapted for flight: their bones are spongy, they rely on anaerobic power for large quantities of time and they have large brains to coordinate flight. Plus echolocation.
3- By 95 million years aerocetes have become a dominant clade of flying vertebrates, taking super-aerial niches that require almost no contact with the ground. The forest of Antarctica are filled with swift-like flutterdolphins, with a particular nectivorous species, the spitfire dolphin, harboring dangerous chemicals in its blowhole, spitting them at predators. The windrunner is a fully aerial cosmopolitan species where the tailfin enlarged to become a pair of secondary wings.
4- A massive extinction kills nearly everything, but aerocetes survive because, like Neornithes, they take care of their young, and like nyctosaurs they never touch the ground. They once again diversify but the ground is now devoid of predators, so some become flightless and use their flippers as legs. Some are desert-hopper herbivores, others are carnivorous Titan Dolphins. But those that did remain on air continue to develop more complex brains, and make a city in the sky.
The end. Now illustrations pls.
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