The Caribbean consists of a group of islands starting just south of Florida and ending just north of Venezuela. The Greater Antilles, the northern half of the Caribbean group, is composed of a few large islands (such as Dominica, Jamaica, and Cuba), while the Lesser Antilles is an arc of many small islands.
Spec: Paradise Archipelago
By far the largest Bahamian island, Andros, is nonetheless quite small. It's a mere forty miles across at its widest point. Yet despite the tiny land area of the Bahamas, the islands harbor a stunning diversity of native fauna. A prime example of which is the chickcharney, a turkey-sized flightless paleognath, and one of the top predators on Andros Island. The chickcharney appears to be a more predatory relative of the caribomous. The ecological equivalent of an oversized secretary bird, the bulk of the chickcharney's diet consists of lizards, snakes, and other small vertebrate prey. Chickcharneys are also adept at nest raiding. During sea turtle nesting season on Andros, it is common for somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the nests to be unearthed and devoured by chickcharneys. They are also known to occasionally band together and attack seabird rookeries at night, feasting upon the eggs, chicks, and even adults. Chickcharneys are also known to be scavengers, and are often found combing the beaches in search of the carcasses of washed up marine creatures. Chickcharneys seem to be surprisingly intelligent, and have been known to stealthily raid many a specxplorer's camp at night much like the vulpessaurs and pokemuroids of the mainland.
Most of the remaining avian fauna of the Bahamas is rather typical. Caribomous occupy the game fowl niche; spec parrots, swoops, p-hummingbirds, spec doves, pickpeckers, nearcrows, and the gondwanaviforme ball birds are all present, and nearly every large island has a unique species of treechook (galliformes that occupy the niche of squirrels.) As for sea birds, there are numerous p-tubenoses, an eberg, as well as several species of seaguins & hespero-cormorants. Most of the pterosaurs in the islands consist of sea-going azdharchs, which often migrate to the Bahamas to breed. Various species of nyctosaurs are also found fishing in Bahamian waters. Several nocturnal nightjar-like anurognathids inhabit the forests of the Bahamas as well.
Despite the Bahamas being relatively sparse and isolated, there is a surprising diversity of native land mammal species. One notable mammalian inhabitant of the Bahamas is the cay beaver, a species of gondwanathere that diverged from its southern, mangrove beaver cousins in the early Pleistocene. It's notable for being the largest land mammal on most of the islands, though some of the larger ones such as Eleuthera and Andros harbor local strains of dwarf bastard sloths, which are larger. Andros Island has a population of the carnivorous multi called the ougoun, which seems to have arrived quite recently from Cuba. It should also be noted that there is a large diversity of sea-going mammals in the region, including the ironclad (an aquatic armadillo,) the West Indian gloop, the Caribbean smooch, and several species of walducks.
On many of the smaller Bahamian cays where the chickcharney is absent, a voltaticothere specbat known as the silver wing fills the niche of apex land predator. "A denizen of the Caribbean, this specbat has a dark fur colouration with silvery wing membranes. Like most ptero-bats, it walks along shorelines and wetlands in search of small animals that it catches with its powerful jaws. Living in an archipelago, this species is more terrestrial than most of its relatives, thus being like a little nocturnal azhdarchid in habits. Fairly social, they rest in caves during the day time; males form pairs that watch over a large harem that is often targeted by neighboring males. Battles usually are more like bizarre dances with hisses and growls, rarely needing serious physical violence. Having few predators on the islands, they are often the apex predators in the smaller islands of the Bahamas."
The Bahamas, despite having a year-round tropical climate suitable for ornithischians, has a remarkably poor number of species. The Caribbean Winklecracker is omnipresent, however, and can be found digging up mollusks and crabs on virtually any Bahamian beach. There are, unsurprisingly, the aquatic duckgongs. Secondarily terrestrial versions of the duckgongs known as "dryducks" are prevalent, and are the primary grazers of the Bahamian savannas.
Perhaps one reason for the relative scarcity of ornithischians is that most of the large herbivore niches on the islands are occupied by titanic, Volkswagen-sized meiolanid turtles, which are the largest land animals in the Bahamas. This particular genus, Cubachelys, is found throughout the Caribbean. They are not particularly closely related to the South American panzertoitles, but are instead derived from smaller meiolanids that island-hopped from SA across the Caribbean prior to the Great Faunal Interchange. While the dryducks are primarily grazers, these meiolanids are the dominant browsers of the understory of the coppice forests and pineyards of the islands.
The Bahamas are also home to a plethora of native squamates, including iguanas, boas, geckoes, skinks, and polyglyphanodont zallingersaurs. Mathiglum's Zallingersaur, (Hoplozallingersaurus monoceros), is the largest of these. Adults can as much as four meters long and weigh up to eight hundred pounds. These vibrantly colored orange, yellow, and blue lizards are heavily armored, with a nearly foot-long horn sprouting from the tip of their snouts, and are rarely preyed upon. Thus, they're known to live as long as half a century. Most island-dwelling zallingersaurs are thinly armored as a result of a lack of predators, however, the Bahamian species are more closely related to armored mainland species that have arrived from Florida relatively recently in the islands' history.
Another notable squamate of the Bahamas is the slothskink, a slow-moving arboreal folivorous scincomorph. These are by far the largest skinks in the world; specimens as long as 1.5 meters and weighing 50 lbs have been found. It should be noted that the slothskinks show a remarkable convergence towards the mainland treeguanas.
The island of Abaco is famous for hosting one of the most toxic snakes in either timeline, the kiss-of-death, (Bahamagkistrodon mortis). The underbelly of this serpent is a buff-yellow in color, while the back is a vibrant aquamarine. It is nearly exclusively arboreal, feeding upon birds, eggs specbats, and lizards. The viper's arboreal nature greatly reduces the frequency of interaction between it and humans. It more than makes up for this in the extreme toxicity of its bite, which no human has ever survived. Its venom is a severely amplified version of that of its relatives, the copperheads and water moccasins of the genus p-Agkistrodon. While its relatives are only mildly toxic, the kiss-of-death delivers a dose of venom large enough to kill a human within three to eight hours of a bite.
The Bahamas also have several crocodilian species, most of which are aquatic. The bull croc, most notable of these, is a yellow-brown aquatic sebecid that stalks the numerous mangroves, lagoons, and brackish bayous throughout the Bahamas. Also found in the Bahamas are numerous predatory aquatic choristoderes, including the West-Indian Jackadile and the Pelican Lotan.
The islands also have a fantastic diversity of flora, much of it endemic. Much of the Bahamian islands is covered in dry land coppice forest, dominated by p-mahogany, p-manchineel, p-sea grape, and various un-palms (a group of tree cycads native to the neotropics,) with an understory of palms, zamia cycads, bananavines, and various p-cacti. The other primary type of Bahamian forest is the pineyard, which as the name suggests, consists primarily of p-pinus along with a few species of cedar and the Bahamian araucaria. Niska's un-palm, found only in a few isolated groves on the island of Grand Bahama, is the largest cycad on Spec, commonly reaching heights of 60-80 feet or higher.
Spec's Bahamas consist of more than a thousand islands and cays, the majority of which have yet to be explored. The surface of the Bahamas' biodiversity has scarcely been scratched. There's no doubt that countless undiscovered species remain hidden, swimming under the waves or slithering through the branches.This island paradise certainly has its fare share of surprises and oddities.