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Zero G Anatomy

By Abiogenisis
The insides of the creature in this image: [link]

The Parrot Flowerjaw is named both for its petal like mouth, and the earth parrotfish, and like its namesake it scoots around its environment picking food items from the substrate.

Its gravity-less gaseous home environment has led evolution to favor radial symmetry, and the flowerjaw can see in all directions with its four eyes while scavenging for food among the multi-kilometer long strands of webforest. Though occasionally alone, it is often found in loose flocks of thousands that descend on areas of forest and strip it of all edible creatures before moving on. However at only about a meter long, the Flowerjaw is itself prey to larger creatures and some of the more aggressive plants...

Internally as externally, the flowerjaw is divided into four quadrants, each possessing several organs. Four eyes are joined to a four lobed nerve ring, though a single digestive tract sits in the center of the body. Eight paired hearts are joined to blood sinuses, one of each pair pumping blood fore and the other aft. Four lung like sacks handle gas exchange, and are ventilated by expanding and contracting sacks along their edges, rather than use of a diaphragm as in some earth creatures.

Four fin-wings propel the flowerjaw in the manner of a cuttlefish or triggerfish and give it manoveuring ability in the sometimes tangled webforests.
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© 2007 - 2021 Abiogenisis
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shannonlove's avatar
I think a zero-g species would be trilaterally symmetrical. That's the minimum required for maneuvering surfaces and sensory sphere. Evolution prefers the minimums. 

BTW: Wings/fins that run parallel to the line of flight won't work as propulsors n zero-g. Wings/fins in gravity field can use the same motion they use to produce lift to produce lateral thrust as well. Without gravity they can't. Instead, you have to have something like fish's tail or a whale's fluke. Something that pushes air back and the critter forward. 
Abiogenisis's avatar
Was thinking these fins moved in the manner of cuttlefish skirts
It could still work if it moves its fins in a wavelike motion, so the front of the wings lift up first, then move downwards as the next segment lifts up, pushing the air backwards. It would need a thicker atmosphere than earth's  for it to be a practical means of transportation, but that isn't expressly said to be wrong. Its head should extend further back, though, so it can move faster.
RJB13's avatar
Looks like an Elder Thing. I love it.
Abiogenisis's avatar
I can see that :P
CartoonBen's avatar
A very unique example of imaginary invertebrate anatomy indeed.
CartoonBen's avatar
You're welcome.
TombojinUkiyo's avatar
Larry Niven's "Integral Trees" (as you cited) was an interesting concept, but I always questioned the plausibility of it. A star between 1.44 and 2.88 solar masses collapses into a neutron star the size of Texas. And yet it has an Earth-like atmosphere which doesn't collapse into the star? Doubtful.

There are neutron stars with atmospheres, usually stolen from a sister star's atmosphere, leading to a pulsar. But then you're talking about an atmosphere of fusing gases and radio bursts capable of frying anything and everything even remotely solid. Think fusion-powered microwave and you get the idea.

Assuming Earth-like evolutionary processes, you would want at least a couple billion years, so I don't think an artificial construct would be the way to go. A single asteroid collision a la the K-T asteroid would be enough to puncture any hull. After all, look what it did to the Earth.

A nebula would be too thin. Great for a Bussard ramjet; not so good for life.

Two possible solutions which I've been working on for a story:
1) a terrestrial planet which had an atmosphere breaks apart (inherent instability, planetary collision a la Theia, etc.). The component rocks then enter into a stable orbit similar to a self-contained asteroid field, thus preventing them from collapsing back into each other via accretion.

As a total mass, the region would still have the same mass as the original planet preventing the escape of the atmosphere but the individual asteroids wouldn't have sufficient mass to have their own atmosphere. You might also get denser pockets in some areas than others.

Also, if it had a denser gas than oxygen, say fluorine, chlorine, methane, fluoro-ethane(?), silane, or even radon, that would help. Radon is radioactive and heavier than lead, and the life's adaptation to dealing with the radiation could produce interesting results in its ecology.

2) A binary or even trinary planetary system with a common external barycenter, creating a gravitational pocket large enough to retain the atmosphere, again especially if they're heavier gases. I'd have to dig up my notes on the math for this. But if their combined masses were equal to Earth or greater, say a couple Mercury or Mars-sized ones, then the planets wouldn't have enough mass for their own atmosphere but combined would indeed have one.

Anyone's welcome to use these ideas but credit would be welcomed if you do.
shannonlove's avatar
Niven's "Intergral Trees" gas torus is based on the real world gas torus anchored on Jupiter's moon Io. Of course, it's mostly nitrogen and sulfur and nowhere as dense. 

The atmosphere was blown off a gas giant planet when the star collapsed. The planet is still there embedded in the gas torus and constantly exchanging gasses with it, just like Io. The gas can't collapse into the star because 1) it has it's own orbital velocity which counterbalances the star's gravity 2) the planet pulls any infalling or outfalling gasses back into the orbit of the torus 3) the magnetically accelerated particulate wind from the neutron star, basically a thinner but faster solar wind, constantly pushes gasses outward away from the neutron star. The torus leaks gas just like a planet, it's knocked off by the solar wind of the G-class star the neutron star itself orbits. The neutron stars intense magnetic field provides the same imperfect protection that a planetary magnetic field would. 

So, Niven's gas torus is plausible on the basis of orbital physics and planetary atmospheres. What I found difficult to explain were the winds, convection and general air circulation necessary for an active biosphere. Niven evoke a microgravity gradient from tidal forces (the inner edge of the torus experience higher gravity from the neutron star than the outer edge) but I'm not sure those would be strong enough to overcome the orbital velocity of the gasses on the outer edge. Even over a distance of few thousand miles, that still a lot of energy constantly gained and lost for convection to shift. 
Abiogenisis's avatar
Basically in the end I decided my maths werent good enough, so a synthetic environment was used.
WorldBuildersInc's avatar
So... Define the zero-g environment? Is it like a partially-condensed nebula ring or something?
Abiogenisis's avatar
Even they dont know ;)
Vaharamus's avatar
Beautiful anatomy and sketches.
VilmosHeinz's avatar
I like your design..it's cool..I have one similar to your..
Love the detail wish there was more like this
Abiogenisis's avatar
Fun to do as well!
WishmasterInRlyeh's avatar
If the planet of the Parrot Flowerjaw has no gravity, how can it retain its atmosphere?, or the webforests are no planets?.

If they are not planet, how can they avoid theit atmospheres to escape to space?.
Abiogenisis's avatar
Could be a giant artificial structure.
Helixdude's avatar
Perhaps it's a sort of gas giant that through some disaster, broke apart and now exist as a system of life supporting clouds orbiting each other.
Abiogenisis's avatar
Or a nebula held at a high density through some cosmic phenomena. 
WorldBuildersInc's avatar
If you saw my map of the Solaxos System, I explained how a nebulous orbital cloud could be contained at high density. It's a bit of a scientific stretch, but it works well enough.

"[The] Nebular Zone is about ten thousand kilometers thick, and highly turbulent because of its convection-based nature. The clouds of the NZ are kept within a certain orbit by [the star]'s heat forcing it outwards and the gravitational force of the star pulling it in. Its dense, shifting clouds are difficult for small craft to navigate, and it blocks the view of the stars from the inner planets and absorbs most of the light and warmth from Solaxos."
Abiogenisis's avatar
You would need a super precise balance of gravity and gas density.
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