Monday, May 30, 2011

Freshwater Ecology 2: Obvious Earthly Influences

My wife and I like to fish a lot, so working on this group of nereids has been pretty enjoyable. Though I try and keep things unique and interesting, there are some species that have obvious earthly influences. I don't think this is a bad thing, necessarily, since I've discovered that basic nereid bauplans make it difficult for such convergence with terrestrial life to seem contrived or unimaginative.

The boxhead is a direct result of all the rainbow trout I've caught over the years. They aren't quite as colorful as trout, but I've seen how hard it is to see a fish with that coloration and I thought it would be useful for the boxhead too. I made the red stripe more visible on the boxhead to reflect the general nereid trend that herbivores (especially aquatic ones) tend to have colors in common with their food source, providing camouflage while they eat. I wonder if I use camouflage too much...

One thing that occupied my mind as I put together the boxhead was its "hammerhead" eyestalks (another obvious earthly influence). It made sense when I made the goldwave so long ago, but I wondered if such a wide view would be feasible for the boxhead, which I envision slinking in between rocks and twigs. Well, they're not as wide as on their cousins, but I still think a broad spacing for boxhead eyes is useful enough to keep in what can sometimes be a confining space. One hiding in a hole could poke out a stalk without exposing too much of itself, for example. I think it works, but as always I appreciate your thoughts as well.

Even mythological creatures influence my nereids. I really wanted to make something based on the Chan Chu, especially when I discovered that they're described as having only three legs. So with a red-eyed, three-legged bullfrog with gold in its mouth as a starting point, I then needed to figure out how a similarly iconic nereid could come about. Most of it was easy, especially since I already have a clade that closely resembles frogs and toads. The gold in its mouth required not only design features for this nereid but for the pearl worm as well. Gold coloration solved the problem handily. Taking a page from the techniques of the alligator snapping turtle, and the chanchu was born. I must say I'm quite pleased with how it turned out (some nereids have undergone extensive redesigns before reaching their published form) and it's a fine edition to the Aquaparia class. What do you think?


  1. One thing sticks out: how well can the pearl worms see?
    (or is it mostly chemical lure, and the color is a happy coincidence more noticable to human scientists, than to pearl worms?)

    as for the hammerhead - retained features are often slow to go away (just ask the Bonnethead Shark), and make perfect sense here - the impression I got from your Boxhead image, was that the hammerhead is narrowed, giving it an advantage in swimming through streams (and in catching less current when lying on the surface of the water to breathe)

    excellent work, all of it.

  2. Pearl worms have some vision; their eyes are so small they're practically unnoticable. But yes, there is a chemical component to the lure. Even to pearl worms the tongue looks like a friend.

    Why would a boxhead sit on the surface of the water to breathe? They have gills.

  3. my bad - I read the part about how it allows them to survive in low-oxygen enviroments, and that makes me think of alligator gar, snakeheads, and lungfish (which grab air to suppliment their breathing)


  4. Ah, well I suppose that could be a possible behavior for them, but what I meant by that was the robust respiratory system is able to extract as much oxygen from the water as possible. Perhaps their complex gill system and the practice of "gulping" air could be an evolutionary step toward true air respiration? We've already seen a similar practice in the basilisk and perhaps the predecessors of aquapares did the same.

  5. You might want to make the part about the chemical lure explicit in the description, because I had the same reaction as Rodlox when I first saw it.

  6. Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I've added a sentence or two to the chanchu's page. Hopefully it clears things up enough.

  7. I really enjoy your creatures, they are very creative and diverse! A question though, do you plan to use these ideas for anything in the future, or is this just a fun little hobby?