The planet's ecosystem slowly begins to rebound. The atmospheric pressure never does return to the 24 psi of the pre-impact days. The increased volcanic activity helped stabilize it after hundreds of years, to around the 14 psi it is today. The resulting climate is dramatically cooler, yet still very tropical.
Of the surviving animal life, the warm-blooded animals remained in control of all the major ecological niches, as they had for over 150 million years. Except that now, the surviving endotherms were the small, insignificant ones.
Over the course of the recovery period, only those animals with a few common traits survived. These included small body size for heat conservation; the ability to spend large amounts of time in a dormant state; Rapid reproduction and high metabolism.
Almost every group of animal life retained members in the struggling aftermath. But only the small, quick breeders of the groups. The mammals had been professional scavengers for over 60 million years, so the small 'possumoids and proto-rodents flourished.
Of the Dinosaurs, the small specialized flying birds survived. They, like the mammals possessed a special trait. They had the ability to move themselves quickly and efficiently through three dimensions. This allowed them to cover more territory and move rapidly from one place to the next.
The coldbloods: reptiles, amphibians and fishes survived only through the smaller members of their groups. The surviving fish also consisted largely of species that could survive in a high-acid evioronment. Insects and other arthropods of course also flourished, although never again to reach the huge sizes of the pre-impact era.
The really large land animals were now long gone. The huge amounts of energy required to keep the massive bodies fueled were no longer available, so that they were among the very first to die. Also, with a lower atmospheric pressure and the resulting lower oxygen content, the "maximum allowable bodysize" was now much smaller.
Stage VI - The Longterm Aftermath
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