What's It Wednesday

What's it Wednesday

by Djerrid

Categories: What's It Wednesday

9 replies »

  1. Brian is right. It’s an iris. I saw a bazillion of them when I was in Ireland last week. Only, those were yellow. Or is it?

    Upon closer inspection, the deception is made clear. This is actually a carnivorous fish/plant from Ysiol, the third (and largest) moon of Megran VIII. This fish/plants sit at the top of the food chain on Ysiol. The settlers who first discovered them called them the Great Pretender. I’ll explain why in a minute.

    Much like Enceladus around Saturn, Ysiol is covered with a thick layer of ice. Except, strangely enough, at the north pole. Beneath the ice, most of the planet is made up of vast oceans. However, at the north pole, two phenomena coincide to ensure are relatively warm climate and a wide variety of lifeforms. The first is the presence of a large geyser field (think Yellowstone, only bigger. Much, much bigger). The other is an over-abundance of radiation that travels down the magnetic gradients.

    The high levels of radiation means that there is a very high mutation. The diversity of species on this oasis makes the rain forests of Earth look like a desert. However, it also means that most organisms tend to be small and nothing has been able to evolve any sort of higher order, “non-dispersed” intelligence. That’s not to say that there aren’t intelligent insect swarms or photosynthetic colonies.

    This is where the Pretenders come in. Although individual fish aren’t all that intelligent, get a group of them together and they start to do all sorts of amazing things like farming the local equivalent of kelp to build underwater “caves” and, of course, and hunting. Their favorite source of nutrition is an insect called Endociryth.

    The Endo are large wasp-like creatures and although they do exhibit some degree of intelligence, it seems to be on a much lower scale than the Pretendors (as far as anyone can tell, anyway).

    Ysiol has an amazing variety of flowers, particularly those that look like our lilies and irises. Like bees on Earth, the Endo travel from flower to flower looking for nectar. As you might suspect, many of the local plants have evolved to encourage the activity, ensuring the distribution of pollen and the like. And, as you might also suspect, other organisms have evolved to take advantage of this behavior through deception. The Pretenders are such creatures.

    The Pretenders are chameleon like in the sense that they can change color. But they can also, in a surprisingly short time, “grow” various appendages that appear to look like petals or leaves or stamen. To enhance their costumes, they’ve also been known to actively collect dirt or moss as necessary, blending into the local environment. They also tend to gather together in patterns that eventually trap insects in an inescapable maze, much like the Minotaur of myth. Only the maze IS the Minotaur.

    The image Djerrid posted is of a Pretender that has converted into an “iris.” The yellow tips are actually covered with a enzyme/neurotoxin. Once the Endo lands on this “flower”, the “petals” wrap around the struggling insect.

  2. See? That just proves I’m right. Those two sets of appendages at the top of the picture are used to push food around. Like a praying mantis.