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thomastapir's avatar

Moebius Fish

Again trying for a "truly 'alien' alien." The idea here was a marine organism that "swims," and feeds, by turning itself inside out--or more accurately, reversing the orientation of its body surfaces. That little pod-like module with the labial slit is the only part of the animal that cannot reverse itself; it contains the brain and the digestive organs. (I had to make some concession to the necessity of having part of the organism closed off from the outside environment.)

It's hard to communicate in a single static drawing the kind of movement pattern I pictured for this creature. I imagined it being very elegant and hypnotic to watch. If you think of the illustrated configuration as the first step in its movement cycle, it would, from here, begin to reverse all its body surfaces to the point where all the body segments that are initially forward the feeding module would end up after it, and vice versa. It would then smoothly pull in all its body segments to reduce drag and invert them forward/back again to its initial starting posture. All movement takes place relative to that central body module, and simultaneous with its swim stroke is the folding and curling of its body segments to engulf prey and direct it towards the creature's "mouth." Metaphorically, I think of its motion as similar to the way a photon propagates itself through space, cycling between electrical and magnetic states.

This idea goes way back for me; I've always wanted to see how far it would be possible to push the boundaries of alternate but biomechanically feasible body forms. If this form is some world's answer to the vertebrate design on Earth, I think it could lead to some really interesting evolutionary possibilities for feeding and locomotion in flying and dry-land creatures.

My main complaint about this take on the design is that it looks more "ribbony" than I'd originally pictured. I hope to do a more "accurate" version at some point in the future.
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inkdoodler's avatar
To tell the truth, I'm having a hard time visualizing how it works.
talkstocats's avatar
Wonderfully bizarre. I'd love to see a more thorough treatment.
PeteriDish's avatar
dude this is just billiant!
thomastapir's avatar
Thanks, I'm glad you like it!

Also, proof of concept: [link] :)
PeteriDish's avatar
I've seen it, I got linked to both, the video and your drawing, from the furaha forum =P And yeah. Knowing that it actually works makes this even more brilliant! =)
thomastapir's avatar
Oh, sweet, I had no idea...Thanks for telling me!
PeteriDish's avatar
You're welcome! =)
On a different note, do you think it would work with a different number of the movable "segments" too? You know, this seems too cool to be ignored, and I don't want to flat out copy you or the mechanic model and rather add my own twist if possible. I was also thinking if it would work if there were some flippers or something to move larger ammounts of water for a somewhat increased swimming speed... Also, I was also thinking if it would work without any "segments" at all, so it would look like a jelly ring. Do you think it could work the same?
On yet another note, what are your thoughts on making it move like this: [link] "origami kaleidoscope?"
thomastapir's avatar
Oh yeah, absolutely...I think there are all kinds of possibilities for different body forms and geometries that would retain this same basic locomotory style. Please do take a crack at it if you're interested, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Hah, funny you sent along that "origami kaleidoscope"--I'd initially used videos of folding origami toys to illustrate the movement cycle I envisioned. :)
PeteriDish's avatar
I will try! Thank you very much! =)
Byotech's avatar
That's an alien. It's very original.
thomastapir's avatar
Thank you very much, I'm glad you think so!
Charanty's avatar
I want to see it animated.

Idea is so awesome that i'm lost for words!
thomastapir's avatar
Thanks very much, that's a huge compliment!
Charanty's avatar
You're welcome!
newtman001's avatar
Mmmm, tasy moebius fish... You eat 'em, and then they keep coming back.
thomastapir's avatar
I'm going to use that as the slogan for my restaurant! It will be nearly impossible to find the bathrooms.

All proceeds go to my charitable organization, of course: "Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime; teach a man to Moebius fish, and you feed him for eternity."
Tektalox's avatar
You really know how to create truly alien extraterrestrials. Instead of swimming with fins and flippers this creature swims by folding its body into different orientations. I could never made up a creature like that on my own.

How can you even imagine these things who are SO strange?!
thomastapir's avatar
Hah, thanks, man!

A lot of times there isn't really much effort involved...Many of these ideas come to me in dreams, or as hypnagogic image flashes, or as a momentary misinterpretation of two or more juxtaposed objects or pictures--seeing a book on elephants next to a book on penguins, for example. Then it's just a matter of figuring out how the creature works. :)
tentaculus's avatar
I can imagine them swimming fluidly like those Windows 98's bezier curve screensavers.....Very well done I think.

I wonder how does Moebius Squid looked like?
thomastapir's avatar
Thanks very much! Ooo, I need to do the Moebius Squid one of these days...I'm still trying to decide how to do his Moebius tentacles. :)
Sphenacodon's avatar
It's very pretty. Is it psychedelically colored? I heard hippies watch documentaries of moebius fish to accompany their "trips"...

An animated picture of this would be nice, albeit impossible (?)
thomastapir's avatar
You know, I actually pictured this guy being fairly monochromatic--bluish/greyish or tannish/beige-ish. I picked up this shark book filled with awesome Richard Ellis paintings ([link]), and I guess I've been trying to emulate some of the depicted patterns and markings.

I think it might be possible to animate this guy--I imagine its motion would look similar to these folding paper puzzles:

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