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Askewbugs of planet Ullr

By Preradkor
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This autumn I have been reading "Climbing Mount Improbable". In one chapter author wondered why almost all animals are symmetrical. I begin to wonder if it is possible for absolutely asymmetrical animals to evolve somewhere in space. And I was not thinking about rare exceptions, what live also on Earth, but large group, containing very many species, which is basically asymmetrical since millions years. I decided that it must be small, fast breeding animals similar to Earth arthropods. So here you have two species of asymmetrical bugs (popularly known as askewbugs) from planet Ullr somewhere in Draco constellation.

These alien "arthropods" evolved from primitive lancelet like animals. These small, worm like creatures were small, had primitive rubber like internal skeleton on their belly and swimmed like a snakes. Some of them begin to swim in open waters, strangely upside-down, like Synodontis nigriventris. This group evolved into often large, vertebrate like animals equipped with internal metallic-protein skeleton, and vertebral column in their back. Some of these primitive, upside-down swimmers returned to sea bed, but because they were side flat, they lie on the sea bed on one side, like flounders. After that, they developed strong pine cone like carbohydrate-protein shells, transformed fins into many legs, which helped them walk on the ground, and lost their internal skeleton. They become similar to earth arthropods, except lack of symmetry. Their left side is their anatomical belly, and their anatomical back is right side of back. It makes them very strange creatures. These two species are Miles richthofeni and Informiscorpio multipes.

Genus Miles (knight bugs) contains large (up to 25 cm) arboreal herbivores. Male’s knight bugs first front leg is transformed into heavy weapon, similar depending on species to sword, spear, mace, pickaxe, hook or axe. They look quite fearsome and in fact their punch can be very nasty. They live in groups containing about 5 adult unarmed females, some young specimens and one adult male, what protects them from predators and chase out other males. Red color is frequent in this genus, because plants on this planet are usually red with black leaves. So sober red color makes perfect camouflage. Miles richthofeni lives in forests in equatorial area, only place on the planet, where temperature is usually higher than 0 degree Celsius. This species is one of the largest and most beautiful. Their very smooth shining carapace is quite good visible on tree branches and makes rather warning than camouflage. In fact their 23 cm long, flexer muscle filled machete can be dangerous even to bigger, vertebrate like predators. Of course its name comes from famous German WWI pilot, Manfred von Richthofen (known as Red Baron), who painted his plane in red.

Informiscorpio multipes is smaller, reaching only about 5 centimeters, predatory species. Its similarity to Earth scorpion is very interesting example of convergence, but makes it looks even stranger. It also hunts like a scorpion, using venom to kill smaller asymmetrical arthropods. It's venom is harmless for human, although cause pain. This species is easily cognoscible among other scorpion like species, because it is the only, what walks on ten legs (other species walks on nine). It lives far due south on the ice savannah. Ice savannah of Ullr is always frozen. Plants grow here in ice and don't congeal because like almost all living thing on this planet have methanol diluted in every cell and body fluids. It is important accommodation on planet what is much colder than Earth. Now there is one small, not frozen ocean on this planet subequatorial area, but popularity of this apparition suggests that planet used to be even much colder than now. Probably all the water on planet was entirely frozen in even lower temperature than Earth in Cryogenian.

Most asymmetric "insects" on Ullr are of course not so armed like these two species. Most of them have only tiny grab crayfish-like claw on the end of second antenna and mouthparts. Their mouthparts resembles a little Earth vertebrate jaws, because its main part is big, crayfish-like claw, used to bite, covering three mandibles under it. Most species, like arthropods on earth are also smaller, there is very many species less than one millimeter long. But that two are also not the biggest. Some deep sea species like Monstroastacus abysalis can grow to 4 meters long.

Of course these creatures have neither part nor lot in with Coatlicue life forms and in fact they are even more toxic for each other than every of them for Earth animals. The reason is totally different planets they come from. For example on cold and freezed Ullr are a lot of low coagulation temperature chemical compounds in all living creatures. They are often toxic for humans, but innocuous for life on Ullr. Most creatures are very frost proof, some can behave normally with body temperature -60 degree Celsius, and very many of creatures, especially larger ones are more or less homeothermic. Their metabolism is also much slower than Earth animals and there is very little numbers flying species. Probably also there is no chance for intelligence to evolve here. In fact the smartest creatures are about as intelligent as rat (what is quite good in so bad environment)

Hot, wet and stormy Coatlicue have totally different requirements. Creatures here rather try to upgrade temperature of evaporation in their body fluids and have also very unique method of protecting their genotype from thermal decomposition. Of course their genes are much more heat proof than ours, but it is still not enough for avoiding all mutation. So plant-like creatures have very many cell nucleuses in every cell (few from all of parent whose can be much more than two), and animal-like creatures are genetic chimeras. That’s mean they are made from many cell populations originated from different zygotes (up to one hundred in large cephalothoraxids). That’s mean each Coatlicue “animal” is in fact its own siblings, sometimes even different parts of one creature can have different fathers. So great quantity and variety of genes in each creature is perfect form of protecting the genes from mutations. There is very little chance that different genetics materials will break down in the same place, and so creature can try to repair. If it will be impossible, immune system can easily kill all mutated cells, precluding any cancer development without harming whole creature. This protection, simultaneously with hot temperatures allow all Coatlicue creatures to grow and breed unbelievably fast. For example one of largest Coatlicue plants, tower conemushroom can grow to 200 meters high in five Earth weeks, if it will be lucky enough to survive all hurricanes this time.

I am especially proud of this drawing, because it is my first, I didn’t need to use photoshop to upgrade it. In fact I used it only to merge two pieces of paper on which these creatures were drawn and removing advertisement, what were in the corners of them.
I used pencil HB, crayons and black pen only to draw pupils in eyes. It was drawn in two slips of paper, broken out from notepad.

Fauna of planet Ullr 1:
Fauna of planet Ullr 2:
Fauna of planet Ullr 3:
Fauna of planet Ullr 4:
Fauna of planet Ullr 5:
Fauna of planet Ullr 6:
Planktonic askewbugs:
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© 2010 - 2021 Preradkor
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PeteriDish's avatar
Were you inspired by "Spriginna" by any chance? Because it had alternating segments like that! ;P I wanted to do this kinda thing too, but I see you were faster! =) Great work! =)
Preradkor's avatar
I was inspired only on arthropods and flatfishes. Before someone replied here about proarticulata, i didnt really know that these creatures had the same type of symmetry and it was suprise for me. And just afrer posting these askewbugs here i realised that on Earth is also group of organisms which perfectly match into description of askewbugs i writed: "large group, containing very many species, which is basically asymmetrical since millions years". Snails.

Gliding symmetry lets to project really bizzare creatures and askewbugs is not only option. You still can design something very strange what is not an askewbug.
PeteriDish's avatar
Hmmm Wow yeah! I really didn't think of snails, even though they're asymetric! =D I't mainly due to their shell, though, slugs are far more "regular" in terms of symetry... =D
Thank you for the inspiration, but I don't think I'll manage to create "bugs" with segments like that, I think that would be copying you, so I'll probably have to think up some other way how to make things look different... ;)
I was somehow thinking of making worms with this kind of segmentation, or something like chitons, but probably not "arthropods" =D
For "arthropods" I had a different idea, I was thinking more along the lines that the individual "segments" are separate animals (four-legged) and that there are two groups of these critters, some living alone (For those, I imagined something along the lines of something small and primarly aquatic, but then I started to think that something tick- or mite-like and parasitic would work too. The other group would consist of colonies composed of those "segment-critters" which will be so used to living together that they'll act like a single animal, but I still have no idea how they would molt or reproduce... =D I was thinking that they could "let go" some of the segments, which would wander off, find a segment from another colony ad mate, but I don't know how that would work... =/
Orionide5's avatar
Tapeworms are actually long chains of tiny cylindrical flatworms. The "head" is actually the rear end of the chain and new segments sprout from there.
PeteriDish's avatar
Orionide5's avatar
Let me look it up... okay, the "head" is where the segments spawn from and attaches inside the stomach. It does control the rest of the tapeworm, with a nerve center inside, and it is responsible for absorbing food. The segments form a "tape" which trails into the digestive system of the host, and each has its own reproductive system and some other organs. By the time it reaches the end of the line, so to speak, a segment is nothing more than a bunch of eggs that can be passed on to another host. 
PeteriDish's avatar
yeah, I know how a tapeworm works, I just found your definition of it as a "link of flatworms" intriguing... =)
Preradkor's avatar
I must say that these compound arthropods from your idea sounds really bizzare and alien. But I think that better (to make them even more alien) if separate creatures would be fused not exacly like typical segments in earth arthopods, but rather something between helical and vinegrape cluster. That kind of organism would certianly have very strong tendency to specialisation of creatures in whole colony (like cells in multicellular organisms). Some creatures will provide propulsion, some will chew food for others, some will have limbs or horns used to protect colony (or hunt) and some would control behaviour of the others, likie some kind ow whole organism brain.

On earth there are also organisms of that kind, for example portuguese man o'war, but they are all simple creatures with no brain and limbs. Arthropods on earth form colonies in totally different way.

Breeding of these creatures should be simmilar to breeding of ants or termites. Inside of the colony should be just a queen creature (or queen organ) which is mother to rest of colony body. When colony breeds it should just relase young queens. It is the simplest possible way of breeding advanced colonies of this type. Of course it can be complicated to be more simmilar to growing not ant colony bugs but the multicellular organism.

I just remember in one Jacek Dukaj short polish science fiction story "In partibus infidelium" appears alien sentient race known as Crickets, what are based on something between portuguese man o'war and insect colony. But description of them is very limited, they were not the main theme of story. But creatures you described would probably evolve in this direction.
PeteriDish's avatar
Hmmmm... Your idea is very interesting! Though I think it'll need a while to sink in, before I can visualize it properly... ;) I know about the man-o-war, and that was actually the inspiration for making colonial animals. =D I'll see what I can come up with, thank you for your time and idea! I'll let you know what I can come up with! ;P
Preradkor's avatar
Ok, i hope i will see something exceptionaly alien :D
PeteriDish's avatar
I'll let you know! =)
This is brilliant. Speculative evolution needs much more flatfish-style abnormal symmetry.
labgnome's avatar
I must say I absolutely love this one and it's one of my favorite alien designs here. It's atypical and creative in a number of ways. It's asymmetrical, which you don't see to often, it's also something small and (to a human) inconspicuous.

They actually resemble the symmetry of the Ediacaran group Proarticulata [link] and other fossils that have not only have a symetry very simmilar to the organisims you describe but have also been suggested to be related to arthropods or vertebrates, similar to the descriptions you posted.
Preradkor's avatar
It's very interesting, I didn't heard about these Proarticulata creatures. And it is also very intresting, that they can be chordates ancestors. I think it can be true. Even today primitive hordates like lancelet have body muscles located in "symmetry of gliding reflections".
labgnome's avatar
One alternative thought I have turned around in my head when it came out that the ctenophora AKA: "comb jellies" were in fact the first organisms to diverge form the animal family tree [link] ; and that perhaps they were in fact hold-over edicarians. That they, the proarticulata, trilobazoa, ragenomorphs and erniiomorphs, were more of "cousins" to modern "true animals", that mostly went extinct. With the trilobazoa and ctenophora surviving through the cambrian, and only the ctenophora surviving to the modern day.
Zippo4k's avatar
As bizarre as these, I kinda like them...
AmnioticOef's avatar
Your creatures are the best! I especially like the long descriptions. I'm curious about the Coatliqueans (ites?) reproductive biology. How exactly does that work?
Preradkor's avatar
Simmilar to this genetics but on Coatlicue it is totally normal and do not causes any deformation. Usually few ovums are connected to each other and even after fertilization each zygote cluster moves (using cilliums), searching another cognate zygote clusters. Creatures what have external fertilization (like arrowfishes)usually develop from just few populations of cells. Zygote clusters of creatures with internal fertilization have much bigger chance to meet ech other, so they can create very big clusters containing as I said before even one hundred zygotes in big species.
Preradkor's avatar
oh, it destroyed link I put here.

So click here on the "Chimera (genetics)".
AmnioticOef's avatar
Awesome! Thanks for the link.
Both the drawings and the description of these animals are fantastic. More, please! :D
Preradkor's avatar
Thanks But I rarely submit new drawings here. If I would only have my own scanner and lot of time...
povorot's avatar
I'd love to see more of this...
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