This false fish living in the floating weed forests of planet Ectora have very odd anatomy. They have five heads, each with a beak and two eyes. On the opposite side of the body are anal spines. All are used as feet to crawl through the seaweed. The top head is modified into a hook for grasping and climbing. Most species have defensive spines on this appendage. In most species, the hind "legs" are able to grasp objects between them. The five beaks sometimes specialize in different foods and have different shapes. The hook-arm beak usually only consumes liquids such as weed juices or animal blood. Other beaks might specialize in crushing, stripping, or chewing.
The sawtail fish of Ectora is heavily armored and slow-moving. It captures plankton in the hairs of its lower mouth. The upper mouth is much smaller and used only for respiration. Both are able to shut tight by closing armor plates over them. The false fish has a total of six spines on the body. The forward two have fins attached to them. The rear four are covered in barbs. All are rigid. Only the tail can swivel and this allows it to slice at the scary electric sharks that pursue it.
There are regions on planet Ectora where seaweed gathers into thick, floating forests. With a few exceptions, the animals here are slow and rely on camoflauge to avoid being eaten - or to better sneak up on their meal. The Ectoran false fish above has four heads with three mouths between them. These mouths open so deeply that when the fish curls its jaws fully open the animal takes on a completely different shape. Being able to take on so many different shapes makes it less likely to be recognized by predators. Its mouths are also used to grip the seaweeds to avoid floating away.
Planet Halyjoa is populated by organisms without true cells, but the most successful phyla have pseudocells making up parts of their bodies. The brains, digestive systems, and genetic storehouses are located in the central nucleus of the whole animal. The pseudocells make up the limbs.
The animal above has four central nuclei and reproduces by binary division. It is a member of a family of over a hundred species. They range from 100 microns to 1 millimeter across, have anywhere from seven to twenty arms, and live as scavengers, detritivores, and decomposers. The ends of the arms dissolve and absorb food from the surroundings where it is passed to the nuclei to be absorbed into the body cavity.
The mask fish of Ectora get their name from the symbiotic behavior of only a small minority of the member species of the group. Being slow and clumsy swimmers, they grasp the heads of certain fast predator fish inbetween their two tailfins by turning sideways. They are then able to lead the predator fish to prey by squeezing on one side or the other. Predator fish have learned the value of the masks in seeking prey at long distances at night or in deep waters where light is scarce. Their huge eyes are better than most. Working together, the two fish catch more than they ever could alone and they share all meals. There is even one species of predator that has completely lost its sight and will starve if it cannot find a mask fish to partner with.
Mask fish begin their lives with the middle head being dominant and move by means of cilia. They eat plankton. By adulthood, the middle head atrophies into a useless nub while the top and bottom heads develop powerful suction, jaws, and teeth for tearing flesh from prey. They generally cannot pierce armor and need their partners for this. Most species have eight eyes.
One group of false fish that specialize in hunting especially fast and maneuverable prey in the open sea have the forward part of their body divided into distinct necks, each terminating in a toothy mouth. They are able to hold these necks together into a streamlined form and may even have fins attached to them. In the species above, smaller grasping nubs hold the five necks together. These hunters swim as close as they can to prey and then send their heads in all directions, hoping to catch the tricky prey fish no matter which way it flees. Even so, they are successful less than two percent of the time and must keep trying. The individual above has a small brain and two small eyes on each head, as well as a large master brain and two large eyes at the base of the necks where the nerve cords all connect.
Omnidirectional crabs (or omnicrabs) comprise a large family of species native to the reefs and abyssal plains of planet Ectora. They range in size from one millimeter across all the way up to three meters across. Most are scavengers or herbivores. Shown above on the right is an example of a common omnicrab. It has three true heads (green) and three false heads (red). The internal anatomy is visible in this drawing, including the mouths, throat pouches, esophaguses, stomachs, and anuses (terminating in false heads). The backbones of these creatures follow the same paths as the digestive tracts and are connected by a complex, interlocked rib cage. The crab has two legs per head and is capable of crawling in any direction. The false heads are believed to deter certain types of predators that only attack from the back.
Deep in the abyssal plains of the Ectoran sea, light is non-existent and the direction of attack matters little. Deep-sea omnicrabs have thicker shells than their reef-dwelling cousins. Among the thickest shells are found in the "turtle-crab" genera, the most extreme example being the greater scatter-horn turtle-crab shown on the left above. The upper shell overhangs the body and legs, allowing no direct path to the relatively soft underside.
These lizard-like beings of especially slow and efficient metabolisms spend most of their lives absolutely still, soaking up water into their bodies from their numerous hairs. They only move to seek out new sources of water or mates.
Upon reaching adulthood, the "lizards" extend their oral lining inside-out, forming a balloon filled with algae. Fed by water and other nutrients in the lizard's blood, the algae grows rapidly in the bright sunlight of planet Punlitorea's deserts. A tongue based deep in the lizard's throat is then used to scrape off excess algae and carry it into the throat for ingestion.
I'm not sure which of my 23 planets I'm going to add these to yet. These are spongefish. The doodle above represents the common ancestor of all spongefish. The central stalk contains muscle fibers to allow the animal to swim. It also contains dozens of simple eyes that see right through the transparent jelly surrounding it. The stalk serves as brain, skeleton, muscles, and contains the bulk of the sensory organs. The transparent jelly around it contains tiny pockets and tubes (making it spongy) to capture and digest plankton. The more advanced forms of spongefish eat other fish by swimming into them. The prey gets stuck and digested. When spongefish encounter each other, their cells naturally try to digest each other. Predators must have sophisticated and highly specialized immune systems to shut down the digestion and immune systems of their prey. They must also be careful not to swim into anything not prey. On this planet who eats whom has less to do with size and more to do with antibodies.
After billions of years of evolution, spongefish develop protective shells everywhere except specialized spots that become mouths and gills. This keeps them from being digested by others and should they place the wrong food in their mouths they can always spit it out. The spongefish above has one large gill that can be retracted into a sausage-shaped pouch for protection. When extended, the gill also acts as a propulsion tail or will wrap around prey to digest it. On the other end, the outer shell has formed horns and the inner stalk has breached the surface so that the eyes can see out (eyes imbedded inside the body and gill have been lost).
The spongefish below has its mouth/gill on the same end as its eyes. The rest of it is covered in a tough, flexible shell. It picks up food in its trunk and digests it right at the end. The trunk has two other uses as well. It can be used as a periscope to see above the ice in winter and it can grasp stones that are used to build nests. Since the trunk contains all of the eyes and at least ninety percent of the brain matter, it makes it the animal's most vulnerable spot and predators know this.
These creatures belong to a group of animals whole legs only come in a single row. Most live in the trees and use their highly flexible legs to grasp branches. The one above is different. It moves on a layer of mucus like a snail and keeps its balance by having wide feet. The legs are long to keep it off the hot ground and it is thin to dissipate excess heat faster. The fangs are for piercing fallen fruit and sucking the juices.
Hello, my name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small. I like bacon. I like pizza. I like bacon pizza. I enjoy long walks on the beach, but prefer the mountains. I am a huge fan of Jesus. When I grow up, I want to be just like him and create my own universes.