Tag Archives: Zoology

Plot-a-Day: "Alien" Squid sighted at deep-sea platform

The Shell oil company has filmed an alien-looking Bigfin squid at one of its oil development sites. These creatures are a stark reminder of what strange animals live in the depths of our Earth’s oceans. When I watched the shaky video in the National Geographic article, I kept thinking that alien life on Europa could not possibly look weirder – or more spooky!

The plot ideas here are obvious.

  • The sighting is an actual alien, or a monster – a Deep One, Godzilla or the Cloverfield monster, or some other strange creature. The creature could be scouting out the oil rig for a later attack.
  • The oil drilling site could be located on an alien planet, thought to be devoid of native life – the presence of these creatures could undermine plans to exploit the planet.
  • The creature is actually a genetically engineered being released by a competitor or eco-terrorists.

Watch The Abyss or any other deep sea monster drama movie for inspiration, and read lots of H. P. Lovecraft.

The Creatures of Arnâron – Part 2

It takes the bus about 30 minutes to get me from my apartment to work. I usually take the bus in the morning and then the subway in the evening. The bus is quite shaky, and it’s hard to write, but I do not have to change. With the subway, I usually can’t find a seat, plus I have to change twice and that makes writing, well, pretty much impossible.

This morning I used part of my half-hour to write down notes on a few additional creatures. As in the previous post, names are temporary.

The Dragonfly is a large predatory insect – in effect it rules the skies of Arnâron. They can grow up to two meters in length, with a wingspan of over two meters as well. They have strong, spike-studded legs with which they will attack and hold their prey; powerful mouths and sharp stingers. The males are blue and gray, the females yellow and brown in color. The insect is an ambush predator; it will attack its prey in a burst of speed and then use its legs to hold the animal while it delivers deadly blows with its stinger. They feed on smaller animals of all types, but will also attack larger species if desperate for food. Folk tales tell of unfortunate people being carried off by the Dragonflies – but these stories are (probably) just tall folk tales.

Locusts are a great danger for the local vegetation – including crops. The small (up to 5cm) insects will travel great distances and descend upon fertile land in a great, thick swarm, literally eating every last bit of plant they can. Luckily for the people of Arnâron, they are quite rare in the harsh climate, but they have not died out yet.

The natural enemy of the locust is nicknamed Farmer’s Friend (and yes I realize it’s a silly name). It eats other small insects, such as locusts. They will also attack roaches and other creatures. It attacks by spitting out a sticky goo. This goo will stick to the creature, inhibiting movement and rendering flight impossible. There is also a mild toxin in it which will paralyze the prey. The animal will then eat the paralyzed victim alive. The Farmer’s Friend does not attack humans.

Treelurkers are a form of mollusk, an evolved squid, that survived the changes on Arnâron by adapting to life on land. It uses its tentacles to climb on trees, where it will wait for unsuspecting prey. It will then drop onto those animals, use the tentacles to hold on to it, and use its beak to bite chunks of flesh out of the other animal. They only live in the few areas where vegetation and water are still commonplace, as they do like to return to the water regularly.

Here’s the updated tree of life:

Tree of Life

Arnâron’s Tree of Life – Draft 1

This is sort of a Post Scriptum to my first post about creatures

Tree of Life

Call me stupid if you want, but I never realized that Inkscape actually had connectors for shapes, and that you could thus create flowcharts and so on with it. I actually first tried to make the tree of life more artistic, but considering that it will change significantly as I introduce new creatures (and plants) I decided against wasting my time on that.

The Creatures of Arnâron – Part 1

While Arnâron is slowly dying, it is by no means a dead world – not just yet, anyway. Today I worked on some creatures on the bus; again I don’t have names for many of them, but that will come with time. The creature in this posting are all fairly basic; I never had a great talent for coming up with “monsters” (to use the D&D term) but that just means I’ll have to devote more time and energy to working this part out. Consider this the “first draft of the first part”!

Naturally, the dominant species of Arnâron is humankind. Humans have adapted to the harsh climate, and used their intelligence and endurance to change the world as much as they can to fit themselves – they have built cities designed to shield them from the heat, and canals to irrigate their fields.

The closest living relative of humans is the White Ape, a large mammal once at home in the tropical highlands. As the forests receded, the apes went with them, surviving due to their incredible raw strength. The White Ape is two to two and a half meters tall, and very muscular for a planet with such low gravity. They are covered in gray-white fur and have very humanlike eyes. They feed on fruit and leaves, but they will also take advantage of any opportunity to supplement their diet with meat – the harsh environment has changed the habits of these former vegetarians. The White Ape is considered to be an extremely dangerous “monster”, a reputation partially earned: An enraged White Ape bull is a dangerous beast indeed, but in general the small groups of White Apes are easy to avoid, and avoid confrontations, especially with humans.

Another large surviving mammal is the Cattle Animal. It served mankind as a meat animal and a beast of burden since the earliest days of civilization. As such, humans protected their cattle where they could, and these animals survive along the canals and in other regions inhabited by people. These animals are squat, heavy, and meaty; four stout legs hold it upright, but the legs are to the sides, like a crocodile’s legs, rather than the straight legs of a cow. its skin is vaguely striped in light and dark earthen colors and hairy. It is often used in armor, footwear and other clothes.

The main riding animal, Arnâron’s equivalent of the horse, isn’t a mammal, it’s a large four-legged reptile. It is remotely dinosaur-like: Its two forelegs are shorter than the two powerful hind legs. It has a tail which it uses to keep balance, especially when cantering or galloping, when the animal lifts it’s forelegs off the ground and only uses its hind legs. It also has a somewhat long neck. The skin of the animal consists of orange smooth scales. Most are of a light orange color, but specimen with a deep orange or even reddish hue are known; these are very valuable. The belly’s color is always darker; a rusty red. The reptile’s top speed is about 50 km/hour, but it can only maintain this for short periods of time. It can move at a fast “jogging” speed of about 20 km/h, and can maintain this pace for many hours before requiring rest. The animal is vegetarian.

Roaches are Arnâron’s rats. These insects can grow to 10-20cm in size, and have shiny black chitin carapaces. They make “chirping” sounds. These animals will eat pretty much everything that isn’t actively resisting – a common “horror tale” is that they will gnaw off the feet of a sleeping person, but this has no basis in fact. Most cities actively exterminate these beasts on sight, however, as they can spell easy doom: They reproduce quickly if food is available, and they lay their eggs wherever they can. If they manage to slip into a granary, they can consume a lot of food very rapidly, and spoil the rest with excrements and larvae.

The Kawar (“w” as the “v” in “vest” – /kawaR/ in X-Sampa) is another large, surviving mammal, and may in fact be the largest mammal to survive in the wild. It is thin, almost gaunt, and covered in shaggy fur. It has large, pointy ears, large eyes, and a flat snout and a large mouth with powerful jaws and sharp teeth. Its fangs are very pronounced – a little like those of a sabretooth, but not as extreme. The animal grows to about 1-1.5 meters in length. The Arnâron Dog is a predator and hunts in packs, but it is just as happy eating carrion. Domesticated dogs eat whatever their human masters spare them, usually left-over meat but also some types of vegetable food – the constant drought has forced all species on Arnâron to be less picky about their diet.

Aquatic animals were decimated when the planet dried out. A variety of fish survives in the small remaining seas and the canals, and some amphibians hold out in the surviving marshland, mostly close to the poles, and along the few rivers. The largest predator that can be found in the seas and waterways is the River Dragon, a two to three meters long reptile. Its wide mouth sports rows of razor-sharp teeth. The River Dragon’s scaly skin is a greenish black and its eyes are emerald green with an evil glint to it. The River Dragon preys on fish, but won’t stop from attacking human swimmers. It is the fear of the sailors of the canal barges. Luckily, it is relatively rare.

The Nûk (no good English equivalent, /nyk/ in X-Sampa) is small, furry, cuddly, soft, and cute. Its fur can have all types of colors and patterns. This tiny descendant of monkeys is very agile, but it usually prefers to lounge around and sleep. It is an adept climber, due to its origin in the jungles. The animal was domesticated as a pet, and is valued and loved by the people of Arnâron. Wild specimen have adapted to the climate, and survive near all sources of water on the planet.