Saturday, June 18, 2011

Freshwater Ecology 4: The Finishing Touch

While I know that I still have a lot planned for Nereus, I feel very accomplished. The material on the website is substantive, and I feel like the planet is well represented at this point.

Okay, enough patting myself on the back. I think it's kind of fitting that the freshwater biome is the last one I do; since it threads through the all other biomes, it was helpful for me to know exactly what all those biomes were so the images and concepts I wanted to convey were clear and consistent. When it comes down to it, though, the only differences between the ecology I present here and what is found on Earth are largely cosmetic. I've explored how nereid bauplans would fare in this environment and the outcome has been interesting, but there wasn't much work to make the plants and environment plausible.

Not much else to say at this point. If you have anything to add, or see holes in what I've presented so far, let me know. If not, stay tuned for more nereid fun!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Freshwater Ecology 3: 99, 100!

I've done it! My original goal of creating 100 species for a single xenobiology project is complete! It's taken a lot longer than I thought (serious work began a little more than two years ago) but I'm pleased with the exercise in imagination and scientific education that has resulted from Nereus up to this point. By no means am I done with the project; this could even be considered nothing more than the halfway point.

But more on that later. For this post I wanted to focus on the final two species of this "first batch" of nereid animals. So far my freshwater nereids have been colored to rely on camouflage, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I wanted to depart from that with these two just for the sake of variety.

Of course, being an ambush predator, the river skate would benefit greatly from the same coloration as I've been employing so far, and in the end I abandoned my goal of a conspicuously colored predator here. Since the species is so different from any other nereids I've made so far I decided it would be unique enough to stand on its own while being camouflaged like everything else.

What I abandoned in one I embraced in the other, the yellow crested anguil. With a species already representing the taxonomic family, I had some precedents to work with, namely the armlike jaws, the mildly armored body, and a general color scheme. Of course, color is one of the easiest things to vary between species (and even subspecies) but it was nice to at least have the starting point. From there it was a simple matter of stretching the phylogeny to fit a unique species profile and make sure it's evolutionarily fit.

As always, I'm interested to see what you think about these species, so let's hear it!