(Picture by Daniel Bensen)
    A traveler through the northern prairies of Spec's North America is likely to see (or perhaps trip over) a number of mounded burrows that dot the landscape like miniature calderas.  These burrows are the result of the labors of the prairie's largest mammal, the diga-dumdum (Melesonyx bombastus).

    Diga-dumdums are taeniodonts, a group of enigmatic placental mammals that have lived in North America since the dawn of the Cenozoic.  They are heavily-built and placid, with deep faces and powerful, ever-growing molar teeth that can pulverize even the toughest grasses.  These creatures are huge by the standards of Specworld mammals, the largest bull males measuring a meter and half from snout to tail.  They generally burrow under the soil, eating tubers and grassroots, but will often venture above ground to graze upon the grass.  These creatures probably evolved during the last Ice Age, when dinosaur grazers went into decline, and the frigid grass grew ripe for the plucking.

    When predators threaten, a diga-dumdum will rear onto its hind legs and swipe at the attacker with powerful digging foreclaws.  The claws of these normally peaceful herbivores are quite capable of ripping the face off of an unwary drak or errosaur, and the mammals usually go about their buisness unmolested.

   Like most taeniodonts, diga-dumdums are monogamous, forming life-long couples during their third year and then constructing a permanent warren where they can live for another decade.  Often, young diga-dumdums will expand upon the warrens made by their parents, untill an entire field is riddled with meter-wide holes.  Of cource, the entire ground sinks during the next heavy rain, creating a temporary "diga-bog" and forcing the architects of the disaster of move elsewhere.  It is during such moves that the mammals are most vulnerable to predation, and their cycles of growth, excivation, flood, and retreat have become an intimate part of the ecology of the grassland. 

(Text by Daniel Bensen)
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