Eclipse Phase - Anarres
General Native Biology
This is just a summary of what I’m finding, more for the non-science types.
So, the Kingdom breakdown here doesn’t really match Earth’s. The plant niche is taken up by some plants, but also by thermotrophs, as well as hybrids of the two. You can usually pick out the thermotrophs, which I’m calling Therms, since you can’t make me not, because they’ve got kinda complex tube structures, which turn out to be filled with water they circulate and live off the heat exchanges. Pretty sure what happened here is the Therms came first, probably from deep sea vents or something, too far from the sun. This planet has some serious geothermal activity going on, so sort of makes sense. Plants probably developed later, by which point the Therms were efficient enough to stick around, as well as hybridize. The actual plants tend to be a bit less crazy, fairly fern-looking. Only odd thing about them is that some of them have protective trunks of a substance like chitin, shiny and hard.
Then we’ve got three broad animal groups. Or mobile groups at least. The simplest type remind me of jellyfish, in that they’re colonies of microorganisms. Most of them live under a protective shell of that same chitin the plants have, with a thermotrophic structure in the center. They’ve usually got leaves sticking out through small pores in the shell, a simple symbiosis that seems common with plants here. Some are stationary, but other move around, devouring sessile live as they crawl over it, moving kind of slime mold style under the heavy shell. So, they’ve actually got three energy aquisition methods, which is pretty awesome. If you see the shiny things that look like big pill bugs with grass on their shells, that’s these things. They get up to eight feet long, though the more mobile ones top out at around five. I’m calling them Slimebugs. The flying jellyfish things you see around are the same general idea.
Then you’ve got the advanced guys. Almost all the really complex life here has a plant component, which is why you’ve got so much green going on. Or I guess it’s better to say that most of it relies partly on photosynthesis. The fast predatory types seem to often be the most planty, like they just can’t get enough energy without it. Almost all are amphibious too. Standard design is four long, gangly legs, thorny spines here and there, almost no neck but highly mobile eyes, often four, and a thick finned tail. I’m generically calling them Hunters. The non-predatory sorts are mostly just heavier, and not as regularly amphibious. You can generally tell the non-aquatic sorts as they either have digging claws or shells like the Slimebugs. Everything here needs some way of dealing with the extreme temperature shifts, at least on land. Flyers here seem to mostly be slow, and at least partly rely on gas for lift, though many have wing and sail systems for maneuvering. Only a few aerial predators, some small ones that feed on the flying plankton, and larger ones that hunt ground-based life. The little ones, the Flying Squids, have a sort of jet propulsion, which is really cool. The big ones, I’m calling them Mantas for their general shape, are slow normally, but can rapidly release gas to swoop and grab something, before quickly inflating again.
I’ve found a few specimens that lack either plant or therm aspects, what we’d consider animals back on Earth. They’re pretty rare, which makes sense, as I haven’t really figured out their niche just yet. Mostly smaller sorts, and always amphibious.