NESLife VIII: The Next Generation

Angst

Rambling and inconsistent
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A Silver Mt. Zion
Tallubester
Evolved from: Tubester
Evolution Bonus: +1 Gene
Tubester Genes: 1x Filter Feeding, 1x Buoyancy, 1x Skeleton, 1x Roots
Tallubester Genes: 2x Filter Feeding, 1x Buoyancy 1x Skeleton, 2x Armor (carapace?), 1x Roots
Genes added: +1 Filter Feeding, +2 Armor

Description: An evolution of the tubester with thick armor to help against predators. It stays with the filter feeding strategy, but now stays completely still when fully grown, being well-protected and feeding off the waters around it. To deter or even fully defend it from predators, it has evolved thick bony carapace around it, covering it in protection save for the perforating vents that allows it to feed. It may grow quite big at your discretion. Offspring resembling Blobsters occasionally bud off from the body, which eventually drift away before maturing and sinking to the seafloor. If the location is good, here they will grow into a new Tubester. (Last two sentences are from Tubester description, nothing changed here)

Note: I'm not sure what to call this thing's armor. Carapace? It's not an exoskeleton since it's not something it can move. I was also considering dropping Buoyancy before realizing that it was necessary for its reproduction.

Thank you Iggy!!!



I actually do like that idea, and have discussed it a bit over discord... Iggy pointed out that evolution doesn't really work that way.

Thlayli mentioned adapting / switching genes to something similar - like how barbs could be adapted into a pincer as a free action - but I can imagine getting bogged down in lots of discussion about what does and doesn't merit a free evolution. If we had a blanket rule that you get a +1 evolution bonus from removing any two old genes, that would avoid any arguments.

I will think about it for after the next update - the rules will stay as they are until then, to avoid confusion. Feel free to make your thoughts known here or in discord. At least there is now the +1 bonus for evolving from certain older species.
Possible solution would be that the remove 2 add 1 (or whatever) would require some form of changes that make sense. Afaik, eyes were probably evolved by happenstance with a number of organs chaining together in certain protein formations, that then with evolution changed to become eyes (which happened independently a few different times in the same fashion). So a "free" switch is maybe a bit too much, while trade 2 for +1 related organ could work, if you want a system like this.
 
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tuxedohamm

Disguised as crow.
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Oct 25, 2005
Messages
902
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With a murder
Zoupa
Evolved from: Fjordzord
Genes Added: External Digestion, Water Retention
Genes Removed:
Description: Two of the Zoupa's tentacles have developed the ability to ooze digestive fluids. While the lifecycle remains similar to its Fjordzord ancestors, during low tides, Zoupas will continue to travel around to differing tide pools in large numbers, filling them with digestive enzymes that can be readily absorbed and slurped up. A thicker outer membrane allows them to survive longer out of coastal waters, increasing the short lifespan enough that on occasion Zoupas will expel excess spores instead of only spilling out upon death.

Genes: 2x Tentacles, 1x Barbs, 1x Eyes, 1x Stomach, 1x External Digestion, 2x Water Retention, 1x Aquatic Spores
 

Lord_Iggy

Tsesk'ihe
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On a completely different note Daftpanzer, have you considered tying the Gene removal step to Bonus genes in a limited fashion? such as you can add a third gene to an evolution that turn if you also remove 2 or 3 genes from the species. It would encourage pruning of unnecessary genes from species, and more drastic changes in evolutionary lines. repurposing old features/abilities of a species to new uses if you will.

Don't forget that there is already a reason to prune unnecessary genes, which is that there is a metabolic cost to maintaining traits that don't provide a benefit, so a species that is more streamlined than one that has a bunch of genes which don't provide it any immediate benefits!
 

Terrance888

Discord Reigns
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Jul 22, 2007
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13,674
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Workwork Workshop
Snitchyurt
Genes Added:
Hyphaex1, Colonial Growthx1
Genes Removed: None
Evolved from: Slinkyurt
Description:
As their tentacles became more independent, soon some of the small feeding cilia on the tentacles gain the capacity to grow and become fully formed Snitchyurts, eventually achieving many characteristics one may apply to hyphae. With this, many snitchyurts became to live two very separated lifestyles - one where they are rooted by their hyphae, with filter feeding tentacles spreading both into the seawater and into whatever flesh or sand they’re rooted in. And one where roving bundles of tentacles slink, sulk, thresh and consume their way into breeding amongst a nutrient soup, some resembling more an active fruiting body than a fully independent organism. Some snitchyurts even have detachable barbs, which once broken off inside of a victim began to grow hyphae tentacles into and out of their wounded food.

Notes:
Partially done to further muddle the Moldizord complex, partially because Murder Moss must exist!

I see a there can be a wide variety of snitchyurts, from those that have symbiotic relationships with reef-like structures, to those that focus mostly on ambush predation, to those that are more parasite injectors. I see hyphaex1 to be able to service a wide variety of fiber needs.

Colonial growth ala Mandreg means you can have franken-snitchyurts with a "parent" and dozens of "children" barbed tentacles threshing about before it finally breaks apart into a mess of tentacles, children, and nutrient soup. I also see this as covering hyphae-centric snitchyurts, where technically "childyurts" spawn from the tentacles of a "parentyurt" to spread the hyphae network further. Additionally, like the Mandreg, I assume colonial growth means sexual reproduction - how snitchysex works, I'll leave up to your imagination and to the fan artists.

Also the life cycle may range from more mandrel-style multi-budding and traditional tentacle removal, to more exotic like barb-hyphae bundles, hyphae centric growth with tentacles only emerging as “mobile fruiting bodies”, or parents literally exploding into a nutrient soup for smaller snitchyurts to emerge and feed on (fjordzord style).

And finally, regarding murdermoss - The explorer sees see a field of what seems to be peaceful filter feeders, and then they accidentally step on a tubester, the breaking skeleton letting out a *crack*. Suddenly, a cloud of barbs detatch from the sea floor, once peaceful undulating tentacles working themselves into a frenzy as they approached the hapless adventurer. Their diving suit stood no chance versus the thresher cloud, and soon they too became part of the nutrient soup.
 
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Jehoshua

Catholic
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
7,247
lots of zord evolutions this turn, yet more victims for the Flentablight.
 

Daftpanzer

canonically ambiguous
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6,641
Location
Portsmouth, England, UK
Note: I'm not sure what to call this thing's armor. Carapace? It's not an exoskeleton since it's not something it can move. I was also considering dropping Buoyancy before realizing that it was necessary for its reproduction.

@Angst, I think maybe 'Shell' would fit, but how do you imagine it feeding? Does it have the same 'holes' as its ancestors?

Snitchyurt
Genes Added:
Hyphaex1, Colonial Growthx1
Genes Removed: None
Description:.

@terrance, just to clarify, what species are you evolving from??
 

Lord_Iggy

Tsesk'ihe
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Jun 7, 2005
Messages
24,580
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Yukon
Cavalier
Evolved From: Clinger
Genes Added: Exoskeleton, Filter Feeding, Mass Reproduction
Genes Removed: none
Description:

Cavalier larvae drift passively on the ocean currents, using feathery structures to collect even smaller plankton and to traverse great distances while expending minimal energy. Upon finding a suitable host, they will latch on and begin the adult phase of their lives. As they grow, their small filter-feeding tendrils grow larger and larger into great, feathery nets. They also begin to develop their iconic, mineralized shells. With their superior filter feeding abilities, they transform this sudden windfall of resources into clouds of new larvae, which they release back into the ocean currents to begin the next generation anew.

No host is more useful for the Cavalier than the Thoraxenia, whose auxiliary stomachs provide nutrition for the larval Cavaliers, allowing them to dramatically reduce their early-life attrition and rapidly grow to adult sizes. This creates a fascinating example of evolutionary game theory. In theory, a Cavalier could continue to feed heavily from a Thoraxenia, allowing it to produce vast amounts of offspring. However, if such greedy behaviour were done by every Cavalier, then their steed would soon starve, leaving every fully-grown, mature Cavalier in dire straits and without a host. Thus, a curious equilibrium emerges. An individual Cavalier may be born with 'greedy' traits. On its own, this presents little issue. However, as it reproduces en masse (and with greater success than its non-greedy neighbours), its offspring tend to colonize nearby Thoraxenia, overtaxing their mutualistic partners and causing to localized die-offs and starvation. Thus, the genes that create this antisocial behaviour are periodically culled from the population. The end result is a selective pressure towards behaviours that favour cooperation, even though the Cavaliers have nowhere near the mental capability to even comprehend what they are doing. These behaviours include the voluntary abstention of feeding from the Thoraxenia's auxiliary stomachs once they have completed growing (thus leaving more food for other Cavaliers on the same Thoraxenia, who tend to be close relatives), the crowding out and expulsion of Cavaliers perceived as being excessively-greedy (greedy Cavaliers being those who release too many offspring, grow too quickly or become overly large), and even the voluntary expulsion of their own food into the auxiliary stomachs of the Thoraxenia, feeding their own hosts during times of hardship.

The name of the Cavalier ultimately comes from three things. First, their lattice-like filter feeding nets are said to resemble the banners of knights charging into battle. Second, their clinging to other organisms resembles, in many ways, the cooperation of a rider with its steed. Finally, their complex mutualism ultimately enforces behaviours that could be generously interpreted as 'chivalrous'- namely, that they have been naturally selected to follow a very particular code of conduct, in order to maintain their wealth and security through the generations.
 

Lord_Iggy

Tsesk'ihe
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Rask quietly flicked his eyes between the aquarium before him and his diagrams. The various genera of Clinger and their Thoraxenia hosts were definitely one of his favourite symbioses, although the tangled webs of the Kleptotrons and Aerotrons definitely made a decent contest of it.

Before him, the rasping mouthparts of the Thoraxenia gradually shaved away more and more of a clump of Ralgetron. The rough, tentacle-like appendage was all he could really see of the creature, as the rest of it was encased in an interlocking, organic scale mail coat. This was a Clinger of some variant... Clingers had been doing this sort of thing for weeks of his subjective time, or at least four eras on Fanatica, but this latest variant was distinct enough that it probably warranted a new description... hence its current presence in the biodome.

The defensive coat of these Clinger-offshoots, Cavaliers, he'd been calling them, looked almost frilly. Feathery protrusions trailed out in the current, extending out from the gaps in the shell between each of them. A Xerophage passed by with its distinctive twitching, flicking movement, and the little feathers all retreated back to safety, only extending back out into the water after the dubious danger of a passing herbivore had abated.

It was a little hypnotic, watching the host creature slowly crawling along the simulated seabed, grazing away, while the rest of its body lay ensconced in a mass of anchored filter-feeders, all gently waving in the water. After a few moments, Rask shook himself from his reverie and looked again at his illustration pad.



Note: Colours reflect distinct tissue groups, and do not reflect the actual colours of the organism.

The youngest larval forms looked like little more than feathery pieces of flotsam. But under a microscope, they really weren't that much different than the adults. A collection of branching protrusions (blue) extended out from a central point (green), where the main digestive organs were located.

By the end of the larval stage, the central tissue ball had grown considerably, now visibly showing the proto-appendages that would one day be its grasping digits. Additionally, the first mineralizations of the shell (red) were beginning to form on its back.

The 'latchling' stage, as Rask called it, saw all of the adult anatomy essentially in place, but at a much smaller scale. By this phase, the Cavaliers largely abandoned their planktonic lifestyle, instead grabbing onto potential host organisms. This anchoring triggers major growth in the Cavalier, as it gains access to large amounts of food waste kicked up or discarded by its host. Both its soft body and hard shell will grow considerably, and it will begin to reach sexual maturity towards the end of this stage.

Finally, the adult. At this stage, the shell had extended to cover almost all of the organism. When threatened, the Cavalier could withdraw almost completely under its suit of armour, a defense only made more effective by sharing space with neighbours. The feeding fronds, which hadn't grown much since the larval phase, put in a great growth spurt along with the rest of the organism, further fueling its growth and energy intake. But most interesting was the pattern of its shell. Growth was ultimately limited by resistance and friction, and as such they tended to wind up being shaped based on their surroundings. A single individual would grow in a predictable, symmetrical pattern, but in clusters, they'd grow convex, concave, asymmetrically, and all manner of odd shapes to secure themselves in their anchor point.

Rask took one more look at his diagrams, before filing them away. Another day, another novel Fanatican oddity categorized and described.
 

North King

blech
Joined
Jan 2, 2004
Messages
18,165
Barbotron - North King
Evolved from: Vesicatron
Added: 1x Roots, 1x Photosynthesis, 1x Fibrous Growths (+1 Bonus Gene)
Genes: 2x Photosynthesis, 2x Buoyancy, 2x Fibrous Growths, 1x Roots
Description: The Barbotron has doubled down on the unpleasant cellulose fibers of the Vesicatron, making it ever more untasty for predators. To compensate, it has increased its photosynthesizing to meet the metabolic load, which, combined with its roots, makes it a dominant seaweed in the shallow seas near shore.
 

Thlayli

Le Pétit Prince
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In the desert
In the coastal waters of tropical Fanatica, a bevy of life propers near shore. The silhouette of a Flestuary’s broad back slowly parts the waters, each stroke of its tentacles producing large surface ripples as it moves through the Tronic beds of the shoreline. The vast tidal shallows of this region afford ample opportunity for a cycle of scavenging, as Flestuaries move through the shallow waters systematically denuding the sea bed. In their wake, a prosperous ecosystem flourishes. Vorzords and Tentaflails emerge from their hiding places in shadowed underwater crevices or underground, the first to consume small portions of flayed plant and animal matter, and the second to attempt to lash an unwary Vorzord as it pokes its head above the sand to secure a meal. During the day, this area is free of Slinkyurt covens, but the Tentaflails in particular will need to find hiding places before nightfall when the vibration stalkers most often emerge.

The retreat of the tide interrupts this battle, as both burrower and scuttler must outdistance the waves before they leave these soft-bodied organisms high and dry.

It is then that the characteristic whisper of a thousand tentacles shifting sand fills the ears, as the feeding cycle of Fjordzords and Zoupas carries the juveniles out of the water and onto shore. Tumbling as the waves wash them up, they quickly right themselves and move to higher ground. Their movement action churns the sand, as their small questing tentacles, phylogenetically reminiscent of their giant Flestuarian cousins, poke at the material before them, aided by the crude vision provided by their photoprobes. Some of the lucky ones will find tide pools in the shallows to emit both their young, and in the cases of the Zoupas, their digestive enzymes.

Here we may see a typical threat display between a cluster of small Zoupas and Fjordzords, struggling to contest ownership over an important tide pool. Importantly, the threat display is used to attract fellow Zords to combat rather than to deter, as this behavior incentivizes the concentration of nutrients for the next life cycle. Ultimately the two groups clash chaotically, friend and foe being forgotten in the melee. While there are few survivors from this clash of midget crawlers, their descendants released from the casualties bodies would surely thank them when they emerge from this pool in a week’s time, with ample nutrients to consume.

-Sir Zair Moussadegh, NAO Documentarian, excerpt from The Waters of Fanatica
 
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Daftpanzer

canonically ambiguous
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Portsmouth, England, UK
Update 6 - The Tallubestian Epoch

This epoch is named after the Tallubester, one of several armoured filter-feeders that came to prominence at this time. This epoch also covers an especially long section of time in the planet’s history - traditionally classified as beginning with a burst of diversification and extinction, but then being followed by a seemingly a long period of stability and sameness - either due to unusually stable conditions on the planet, or perhaps an artefact of having an incomplete fossil record that hides a set of more complex changes.

In any case, it seems that rather cold conditions remained near the poles, with occasional winter caps of sea-ice, meaning adaptations for cold water were still relevant for large parts of the ocean. Meanwhile, several large mountainous land-masses had formed near the equator; being composed of a mix of relatively-dry raised areas, or deep valleys prone to flash-flooding, this landmass provided difficult for existing species to colonise.

Early in this epoch, the Zords were established as being the most diverse family by quite a margin, with the emergence of the Admetuzorg, Flestuary, Zoupa, Snitchyurt and Bathyzord genera. Such radiation suggests the basic Zord body plan was well able to adapt and exploit new niches, as they now simultaneously pushed further inland and deeper into the ocean depths than any other type of animal.

Admentuzorg was a branch of the Gallahorg line that seemed to have evolved some complex biochemistry that gave it both a poisonous defence and the ability to process and digest poisons in its prey - making it an effective predator of the Biggerster line, as well as members of its own genus - although it was still vulnerable to attacks by other animals such as Lancers. There is some evidence that this biochemistry was the result of mutualism with microbes found living near hot volcanic vents where the Gallahorgs were occasionally able to venture, and perhaps some species of Ademtuzorgs were specialised in that niche.

As a whole though, the genus was evidently widespread across the planet, able to survive a wide range of temperatures. Yet these creatures do not seem to have been especially numerous; it is theorised that, as one of the most complex organisms alive at the time, with perhaps the highest metabolic costs of survival, they had effectively become trapped in the most nutrient-dense areas of the ocean, unable to survive anywhere else.

Flestuary was another offshoot of the Zord family. It seems to have evolved towards omnivory, exploiting sea plants as a food source, slowly tearing them apart with its barbed tentacles. On its own, this is likely to have been an inefficient mode of feeding. But crucially, the species was also able to survive in semi-fresh water, being able to move into the vast estuaries and brackish lakes and lagoons that often fringed the coastlines of the land. Here it faced no competition from other herbivores over the vast numbers of Tronic plant-life that was now growing here - indeed the only other animal in these brackish waters was the humble Snifahol, often to be found crawling through mud and slime at the water’s bottom, which would be a meagre meal but useful source of protein nonetheless. Tronic growths were often regularly infested with Kafkasus, and it is thought that Flestuary may have been able to digest the fruiting bodies as an additional source of protein.

Thus, even with a sub-optimal way of feeding on plants, Flestuary was able to breed in large numbers, and may at times have been the most numerous of all the Zords in terms of population. It is theorised that it had an important role in breaking up the formerly-stagnant growths of Tronic plants in brackish waters, freeing up nutrients for other species and encouraging further plant evolution.

It’s also likely Flesturary was able to migrate in and out of the coastal areas, and may have clashed with its Flentatail cousins over prey and scavenging in coastal waters. Outside of the brackish waters however, they were more bulky and less streamlined than the Flentatails, which are likely to have won these contests most of the time.

Meanwhile, fossils of Zoupa are notable because they have been found beyond what would have been the tidal flats and beaches of the era. It seems this species was able to push further onto dry land than any other animal thus far, although these may have been accidental wanderings that ultimately proved fatal. It’s main source of food is thought to have been plants, animals and general scavenging found along the shoreline, and it is not thought to have been able to tolerate fresh water as input, but would have been well able to survive on land between high tides. It is also theorised these animals had evolved a way to pre-digest their food using tentacles lined with digestive enzymes - which may have been helpful for dealing with fibrous plant matter, though it could also have played a role in softening up some of the more heavily-armoured prey such as Clingers that may have washed up from the sea. Also, conversely, as shall be covered later, it is thought that certain species of Zoupa may have simultaneously colonised unique new habitats far out in the open ocean.

Meanwhile, Snitchyurt was the latest incarnation of the semi-sessile branch of Zords, but notable for their colonial method of growth, forming networks of related individuals, and also for their hyphae-like tendrils - these allowed greater absorption of nutrients from the surroundings, as well as sharing between individuals in a colony. Like their barbs and vibration-sensing organs, It seems these ‘hyphae’ had been adapted from the ancestral filter-feeding cilia of the Zord lineage. Fossil evidence suggests that large colonies of Snitchyurt were able to grow not only in prey-dense areas of seabed, but also to attach themselves inverted to rafts of floating plant growths - where their main food source consisted of the larvae and young of soft-bodied species that bumbled into their barbed tentacles. These animals were not completely sessile, as individuals would be able to break off and crawl away to establish new colonies.

Rounding off the Zord evolutions of this epoch is the Bathyzord, emerging from a relatively primitive branch of the family that had specialised as scavengers and filter-feeders on the sea floor. Fossils of these creatures were initially difficult to interpret; besides having an odd number of tentacles - breaking with the 14-limb rule of their cousins - it seems that, as these creatures evolved to tolerate deeper and deeper depths, one or more tentacles evolved into balloon-like floatation devices, allowing them to cruise just above the sea floor, at a depth below which most other animals were able to tolerate. Now free from predation and competition, they were able to monopolise the carcasses and scraps of food that fell to these depths. Although inefficient feeders, they could afford to take their time digesting a meal before slowly drifting on through the dark depths - eventually spreading across most of the ocean.

It is notable that Bathyzords would have encountered hot volcanic vents on a regular basis, which were home to thriving colonies of microbes and a potential food source, but it is thought they had no way to exploit these hazardous environments.

The success of Zords also proved an opportunity, however, for an opportunistic, parasitical evolution of Moldus called the Flentablight. First identified from careful microscopic study of Flestuary fossils, this parasite was originally thought to be related to the Kafkasus. However, further study showed it was actually a direct descendant of the Modlus, likely carried into coastal biomes by the Flestuaries themselves.

Flentablight was a parasitic organism attacking all soft-bodied animals, but seems to have been particularly prevalent in the Zord family. The immune system of a healthy animal would have a good chance of destroying any parasitic spores it came into contact with - but a sick, starving or injured animal was far more prone to infection. The unfortunate victim would eventually be eaten alive, it’s nutrients harvested for fruiting bodies that would ultimately burst out from its corpse, if it had not been ingested by scavengers before then. Of the Zords, only the Bathyzord seems to have been immune, as the parasite was unable to tolerate the higher pressures where it lived.

Still, the effect of the Flentablight on the ecosystem was not completely negative. It is thought that it acted as a control against any individual species or group becoming overpopulated, as specialised variations of Flentablight would emerge, and spread rapidly through an under-nourished population that was over-taxing its food sources. There are even hints that Flentablight may have been responsible for some horizontal gene transfer events. The overall effect would actually have been to increase the diversity of species in any given biome.

---

Cavalier was one of the few non-Zord genera to appear in this epoch. Evolving from the Clingers, which lived their adult lives as passengers on other animals or clinging to rocks, the Cavalier was notable for having a stronger exoskeleton, and also for its coordinated mass-release of free-swimming larvae, which would tend to ensure that at least some would survive the gauntlet of predators and filter-feeders. Various species of Cavalier were to be found clinging to rocks, Tallubsters, or plants, but the most numerous were those that specialised in continuing their mutualism with the Thoraxenia, now providing a stronger scale-mail defence for their host and largely replacing the older Clingers in this role. Indeed, once fully grown a small individual Cavalier was essentially invulnerable, aside from having its feathery appendages nipped at, as there was no predator at this time able to break apart its toughened exoskeleton, which also provided some protection against drying out at low tide; in tidal areas with sufficient plankton and nutrients, unbroken beds of specialist Cavaliers were now able to colonise tidal rocks, gradually evicting various species of Zord from these niches.

Continuing this trend, Tallubester was an evolution of the now-ancient Tubester family. Whether it evolved at this time or earlier is not entirely clear, but fossils have only been definitively dated from this point. It was quite simply a larger, more heavily-armoured filter-feeder; in addition to a structural ‘skeleton’ of mineral crystals, Tallubester added a thick ‘exoskeleton’ that was not a continual shell, but a number of different spirals and tubes that connected together, producing an invulnerable fortress for the filter-feeding tissues within. However, it was slow-growing, and required more mineral-rich waters for its exoskeleton, meaning it did not completely replace its ancestors. The hulks of dead Tallubsters provided very valuable anchorage for sea plants and other sessile animals, or valuable shelter for Zords and Swimsters.

Changes in land and ocean configuration during this era created a number of gyres - circular ocean currents - that seem to have made life easier for partly air-floating plants like the Aerotron, reducing the risk of mass-beaching before they had completed their life-cycle. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that Aerotron growths on the open ocean were often tangled up with Vesicatron and even semi-parasitic Kleptotron growths, forming larger floating rafts than had been seen before, with parts above and below the waterline, and with enough mass to resist being casually broken apart or stranded. These masses may now have survived in the ocean for months or even years at a time, some the size of large icebergs, forming unique habitats for animals. Zoupa is one such animal that seems to have been able to colonise these rafts, living for extended periods above the waterline and opportunistically feeding on plant growths or small animals it could ‘fish’ from below. Clinger, Cavalier and colonies of Snitchyurt in particular were also to be found clinging to these rafts.

However, it was an impermanent existence. If the rafts did not end up beaching - creating a sudden bonanza for local beach scavengers - ultimately they would have decayed to Kafkasus infestation or been broken apart by swarms of Falgophage and their chomping jaws, especially if they drifted into colder waters where the component plant species would begin to die.

Perhaps born from these stranding events, Barbotron was a relative of the air-floating plants that was adapted for a more settled existence. Able to root itself in sediment near the shore, or in shallow lagoons, it was also covered in tougher fibrous growths that provided excellent protection against harassment from plant-eating animals of the time - indeed, these fibres were also resistant to decay from microbes and were readily fossilised, becoming something of a carbon sink and perhaps helping to keep the climate stable during this time. Barbotron became the signature ‘seaweed’ of this epoch and seems to have grown in dense carpets wherever conditions were right, providing hiding places for larvae and small animals.

Meanwhile, Igatrone was a development of Tronic pioneer plants that had earlier pushed onto dry land. While having no extra adaptations for storing water, it was able to tolerate dryer soil by means of its more sophisticated root system. Indeed, with the largely wet climate of the time, only a few areas of the land were now too dry to support Igatrone growths. It’s main hazards were flash-flooding in low-lying valleys, that were frequently buried in thick layers of sediment, or extremes of heat and cold found in some inland and upland areas. Igatrone also re-evolved primitive buoyancy sacs that had been lost by its earlier ancestors, allowing it to raise its fronds slightly higher over rival plants in the vicinity and to give its spores a better exposure to the wind.

Conditions at the poles were largely unchanged during this time and were still dominated by just a few species of Tronic plants growing around polar land masses, with vast shoals of Falgophage and Chillster circling around them. The Falgophage in particular continued to breed very successfully with its eggs laid directly into the cover of sea plants - and indeed could claim the highest population of any single animal genus, if only because of the greater competition in other niches and biomes.

The ever-increasing competition in warmer waters, and the spread of poison-resistant predators, and a lack of suitable allies continued to take its toll on the graceful Bigster family. This epoch saw the extinction of the Biggerster and Lamellester, with none of the survivors having stable populations.

---

*Species List + Stats*

--

Notes:

I think I was too harsh on the idea of rafts of semi-floating plants before, and I’ve backtracked on that. Just to be clear though, it’s always going to be an impermanent existence, just like icebergs, they will eventually meet their fate, unless perhaps some day there is a way to anchor to the sea floor.

So there’s been an idea that you can flood a tide pool with digestive juices and then slurp it all up as food. However, in this moderator’s opinion, it’s not very practical as it A: requires a huge investment in digestive fluids / biochemistry to be able to turn many times your body mass of water into one big sufficiently-acidic stomach, and B: even if that is possible, the animals would probably dissolve or poison themselves as much as their food (assuming it’s not a big animal and a tiny tide pool we’re talking about).

As far as I’m aware, animals that have an external mode of digestion are applying their digestive juices to a small area, often smothered by special parts of their own body, or the digestion happens along the surface of specialised appendages. I’m interpreting this as the way that external digestion is happening in this world as well.

Also on the Zord's feeding abilities - IMO, it’s not quite the frantic carnage that some are imagining. I’m imagining more snail-like or starfish levels of energy here (though the Flentatail and Flestuary being a bit more lively as they actually have gills and a circulation system). Remember we are starting from basics and not too advanced yet. But with more investments in barbs / claws / tentacles / metaboilsm, it could get there eventually.

Looking again at the species stats, I also want to stress that improved eyesight would be useful for predators, especially for the Harpazo, which is currently trying to land a harpoon strike with the most basic level of eyesight possible for an animal in this game, which I’d consider to be just barely seeing patterns of light and shadow. Still, given that most prey animals are also blind/semi-blind and slow, I consider this works well enough for now :)

@terrance, I couldn’t allow you to have parasitic invasive ‘hyphae’ without making that a separate evolution point, as it will need to overcome or resist the immune system of other life forms. It’s a neat idea though. In my mind, the hyphae that Snitchyurt have now are passive / mutualistic.

---

My next evolution is something like an armoured filter-feeding worm, with spikey bits.


Enigmata - NPC
Evolved from: Clinger (Era 6)
Genes added (+1 bonus): 1x Spikes, 1x Crawling, 1x Filter Feeding
Genes removes: 1x External Digestion
Description:
completely separately to the Cavalier, another branch of Clinger evolved actively mobile larvae as a means to reach new hosts, and this quickly became the basis of a new lifestyle. Enigmata is a segmented creature, born from mutations in the budding process - each segment containing a more-or-less identical set of ‘legs’ and feathery filter-feeding apparatus, able to trap and digest food particles more or less independently; as a whole, the internal structure remains very simple, and if split into parts, each part would most likely be able to survive. A further development was the emergence of large ‘horns’ on every few segments of the creature, likely as a further means of defence and making it tricky for a larger predator to simply swallow an Enigmata whole. The exact arrangement of segments and appendages is highly variable between subspecies and even between related individuals. Still, this genus has not fully abandoned its ancestral sessile traits, and some species may attach themselves to rocks or other animals during part of their life-cycle.
 
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thomas.berubeg

Wandering the World
Joined
Aug 21, 2006
Messages
9,080
Location
Ft. Lauderdale
Alamantuzorg -
Evolved from Admetuzorg
Genes added: Jaw * 1, Stomach *1
the Alamantuzorg has evolved to more efficiently digest the things that are there to be digested, and to make sure that none of the digestables escape.
 

Thlayli

Le Pétit Prince
Joined
Jun 2, 2005
Messages
10,603
Location
In the desert
OOC: Excellent update!

Frescatail
Evolved From: Flentatail
Genes Added:
+1x Swimming, +1x Cold Resistance
Total Genes: 2x Tentacles, 2x Swimming, 1x Barbs, 1x Eyes, 1x Stomach, 1x Aquatic Spores, 1x Gills, 1x Cold Resistance

Stronger, longer, faster, more enduring. The Frescatail is a faster version of the Flentatail, with stronger tentacles to power faster free swimming in the ocean. Its body plan has shifted slightly to allow internal organs to share and retain heat easier, and it enters a state of torpor in periods of deep cold and hunger, allowing it to endure colder waters and roam further than its ancestors. This allows Frescatails to pursue populations of Falgophages, Chillsters, and Coolsters that had previously escaped serious hunting, as well as Bathyzords in the upper elevation of their range.

A more powerful swim action has a secondary effect of pushing more water through the flentae, increasing the efficiency of its gas exchange, even if the gas exchange processes themselves are still primitive. One weakness of the Frescatail remains their eyesight, which in the cold, dark waters of the arctic seas allows for certain prey to evade the Frescatail by camouflage or extreme stillness, since the tentacles of the animal remain sensitive to movement disturbances. It remains a dangerous predator in coastal and tropical waters, but these new adaptations give the Frescatail a global oceanic range.
 
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TerrisH

Mischief?
Joined
Sep 25, 2005
Messages
2,974
Location
Tucson AZ USA
Jagatron
Evolved from:
Igatrone
Genes Added: Buoyancy x2
Genes lost?: Roots x2
Description: While there are no true fossil record of Jagatron due to its small size and airborne nature, the (name of the next era) if the farthest back hints of their existence can be traced to. Jagatron are quite similar to other Areo-plankton of the modern world, though not quite as high-flying or specialized for the various atmospheric layers, with internalized hydrogen bubbles both in their cellular and multicellular forms, making it lighter than air in all but the coldest weather.

Areo-plankton Life cycle: For the vast majority of their existence, and quite often for all of it, areo-plankton are microscopic lighter than air plant life that drift on the wind. Only noticeable when in large numbers as green dust clouds. They live slowly in the sunlight, feeding and occasionally splitting in two as a very slow means of reproduction. Though this is mostly as a means to keep their physical size down then to truly propagate, and is not enough to sustain their numbers in the long term. Areo-filter-feeders, exceptionally dry weather, or strong down drafts slowly whittle their numbers away over time.

Rain clouds are where Areo-plankton truly thrive, the ample rainwater and trace dust making them ideal places for the Areo-plankton to breed. Each areo-plankton swelling in size around their central hydrogen bubble, frequently to large enough sized to be visible to the naked eye, and occasionally exploding into tens of thousands of new areo-plankton. These population explosions (pardon the pun) continue until the rain-cloud dissipates.
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Areo-plankton! food of the skys!
Drifts on the wind, living peacfully in the empty skys and along the tops of the clouds. numbers flucuate on how dry the air is. population explodes in rain clouds, which have all the elements they need to thrive.
of course, if the wind slams them into the ground/sea, they are very likely done form. less then a percent might manage to regain boyancy and return to the air.
 

Aiken_Drumn

Deity
Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
2,613
Location
NES/FG/SF Activity:Arguing the toss
Yaaay! This is so cool. Thank you for updating dude :D

I'll get involved soon
 

Angst

Rambling and inconsistent
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
14,579
Location
A Silver Mt. Zion
you thought i'd stop making big stuff but you were wrong.
this species will probably instagib itself lol i have no clue


Longaetron - Angst
Evolved from: Ralgaetron (Era 7)
Survival Status: ?
Evolution Bonus: +1 Gene (3 total)
Genes: 3x Photosynthesis, 1x Buoyancy, 2x Roots, 1x Acid Gland (+1x Photosynthesis, +1x Roots, 1x Acid Gland)
Description: The Longaetron evolved from clinging onto Tallubester formations, dead or alive. Early in life, they float until their roots find an appropriate skeletal growth, which it then grabs, and starts to release a slight acid. This allows the Longaetron to slowly dig into skeletal growths and root itself through it. Longaetron forests could sometimes grow bountifully over Tallubester formations, reaching far towards the ocean surface, allowing it nutrients from the sun. As it grows older, its acidic glands switch into a defensive specialization, deterring predators that can't handle its acidity. At the same time, young Longaetrons are actually so small that they're edible by Tallubesters, both allowing nutrients for Tallubester growths to become larger, while applying selective pressure on itself, meaning those that do manage to root and grow are quite energy efficient. As such, while they 'eat' into Tallubester formations, it can be argued there is a form of mutualism here, particularly with the Longaetron's dependency on Tallubester formations to grow. Longaetrons can root elsewhere, but it is only on Tallubesters where there is less competition.
 
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