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thomastapir's avatar

Xenohox Triphidian Studies

Preliminary studies for a(n ostensibly) truly original body plan--an anatomical layout possessing symmetry and axes of orientation defined by a completely alien Hox template. This quasi-radial reptilian marine predator moves through the water "head first" using a combination of pulsing, undulating, and corkscrewing locomotory strokes. Locating a school of prey animals, it instantly reverses direction and swoops into their midst to impale and consume its hapless victims. The spinal trunks can be brought to bear as ensnaring and constricting tentacles when grappling with struggling prey.

A - HEAD: contains brain, sensor suite, and secondary heart
a1 - Eyes--four total: one at the top of the head and one at the base of each spinal trunk where they intersect with the head. This arrangement gives the creature close to a 360-degree field of vision.
a2 - Brain: located in the head between the eyes.
a3 - Secondary heart: works in tandem with the primary heart to ensure a steady flow of blood circulation to the brain.
a4 - Proboscis: used to impale prey. Chemoreceptors are also located here as a safeguard against the consumption of toxins in food.

B - SPINAL COLUMNS (three total): protect the nerve cords and support the muscular locomotory paddles (b1).

C - BODY: contains stomach, lungs, and primary heart
c1 - Mouth: a muscular sphincter engulfing food items impaled on the proboscis
c2 - Stomach
c3 - Primary heart
c4 - Lungs

I haven't decided where the nostrils are yet; my first impulse is to fall back on the default Barlowe design and have them close to the lungs, but I'm also considering rows of spiracles along the locomotory paddles. This would give them a wide surface area for exposure and near-constant contact with moving (presumably oxygenated) water. The muscular motions of the spinal paddles could also serve as a mechanical repiratory pumping system, and could aid in diffusion of gas throughout the body tissues.

Despite the obvious locomotory and morphological analogs to mollusks and sea jellies, I'm picturing this guy as an analog to a secondarily marine/aquatic vertebrate (a sea snake, most obviously). Which begs the question of how this body form works for land-dwelling organisms. (I've discovered it's easier to come up with alternative body designs for water-dwelling creatures, as it largely frees me from considerations of gravity and friction.) In this case, of course, it's also possible that limbs suited for terrestrial locomotion were reduced or lost as this creature's ancestors converged on snakes, a process that may have been aided by their transition back to water.
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salpfish1's avatar
Amazing design!
thomastapir's avatar
Thanks man, I'm glad you like it!
salpfish1's avatar
You're very welcome!:D (Big Grin) 
i wonder when will you make more aliens instead of chimeras thomastapir?, these are so awesomely alien and weird.
thomastapir's avatar
Haha, aw, thanks man!  I'm sure I'll get back to them some day.
Master-of-the-Boot's avatar
Easily the most original design I've seen for a life form. It's just bat shit crazy. The very design is so alien, I have a hard time picturing how it would move and work and feed.

But yes, I give this full marks. for strangeness and somewhere in my gut, I know that this thing could live and thrive somewhere.

So, how might a thing like this evolve instead of going with a more centralized spine like we see on earth?
thomastapir's avatar
Thanks, man! I pictured this one evolving as a sort of soft hollow tube or cylinder with three equidistant lateral gill slits along the length of the body. This, of course, divides the body wall into three equal portions, each of which has a nerve cord running its length. In an evolutionary process analogous to the evolution of true vertebrates from the chordates, each of these nerve cords become "armored" in a segmented tube of annular calcified or cartilagenous rings, so that in essence it ends up with three spinal columns.

Master-of-the-Boot's avatar
so it starts off as something worm like, or just like a cylinder or tube. Okay. Let's for argument's sake say it began as wormlike. And let's say that because it's primitive, it doesn't have true gills, just an open space where water can flow freely over the oxygen exchanging tissues, like some weird version of book lungs. Over time, these "gill slits" grow larger and separate through some weird quirk of evolution.

Still, it's strange as hell. You've got one strange thought process to come up with a beast like this.
MrJmZack's avatar
Unique and awe-inspiring design, with an intelligent description and plan. Biology intrigues me. :)
thomastapir's avatar
Thank you very much, I'm really glad you like it!
(I apologize for the delayed response, btw! :()
MrJmZack's avatar
You're very welcome. It's very good. Oh that's quite alright, no harm done. :)
M0AI's avatar
Brilliant, Tapir! This goes perfectly with the comment I just left on your Fhox, about how a true alien must have a completely different basic, ancestral anatomy. This certainly is alien and strange, while remaining somewhat familiar and functional.

Beautiful coloration. How did you make this, anyway?

I read some of the comments and replies above about this thing's evolution and whether or not it returned to the sea from land, and I have to say that my impression is that this particular individual's ancestors have never left the sea. This is based on the general feeling I get from this critter, rather than spec-evo logic. It feels more like a cephalopod or one of those gossamer, seagoing gastropods than a sea snake.

Just my view. I see you have a legged version of this in my pile of deviations. Can't wait to look at it!
thomastapir's avatar
You know, in retrospect I think that you're absolutely right on this one--it's clearly a marine creature that never left the water. I think I was pushing the "marine reptile" vertebrate identity because I wanted to emphasize that this wasn't some soft-bodied radial mollusk, like a jellyfish; that it had a true mineralized endoskeleton with what we would recognize as spinal columns protecting a nerve cord. I also wanted the skin texture to accurately reflect a parallel evolutionary history to that of the secondarily aquatic creatures of Earth. But this guy just looks too streamlined, too fully marine-adapted to have ever had limbs or lived on land. So I think I'll just say he's the stripped-down, prototype "beta version" of the terrestrial legged forms. :)

Process for these is fairly straightforward--I'm using a VERY old 3D modeller called Ray Dream Studio. The primary procedure I use within that program is something very similar to lathing a physical object: it's a matter of creating a cross section and then "extruding" that cross section out into the third dimension (along the x axis). Tweaking the curvature of the path, adding additional points and changing the shape of the cross section allows you to create quite complex forms. Of course this was a pretty simple model, so I only created the "spines" as extrusions using the above method, then duplicated them and attached them to two geometric primitives (the spheres, which were easily deformed by "squashing" them using something like a 3D version of Photoshop-style scaling). That's it!
M0AI's avatar
Perhaps it's the taxonomic equivalent of a lungfish or coelocanth; one of very few survivors of the aquatic clan which gave rise to terrestrial "vertebrate" life.

That program sounds pretty fun, actually! A bit simpler and easier than more cutting edge 3D programs, too.
thomastapir's avatar
Oo, good idea! Looking at it from that perspective, I think it might be closer to something like a lamprey, or even a hagfish. Yep, that's my official explanation, and I'm sticking to it. :nod:
commander-salamander's avatar
Very beautiful! I'd say something clever but it seems others have already done that. So I'll got for the default "cool"!
thomastapir's avatar
"Cool" is always welcome! :D

commander-salamander's avatar
I was going to say something clever to that but it appears I have left my brain somewhere.

probably not too tasty (stringy if overcooked?)...but well worth the time it takes to train them.

as to reproducing, maybe each little arms/tubes grow along part of each arm/spine, and that way each arm/spine can become a new Triphidian (not sure what happens to the rest of the body at that point)
thomastapir's avatar
They taste just like chicken!

I like that idea--A LOT. There's something about that budding style of reproduction that really feels consistent with their radial ancestry. Perhaps the "offspring" cannibalize the body for resources until its totally subsumed into the new organisms, then they split up and go their separate ways. It would be a kind of immortality that way, really...
whalewithlegs's avatar
Oh. Dude. This can move in so many ways both on land and in the water. Let me count the ways:

a) Coiling around a central axis, then hopping on its heads or slithering like a snake
j) octopus-like looping of spinal columns
c) rolling, with its digestive head tucked in its body a little
d) complicated sidewinding or crawling
f) gyroscope-like spinning top action
y) parasitization of highly mobile animals
m) repulsor current generated by magnetic or electrical organs in opposing heads
k) flapping or turbine-like flying
l) somersaulting
w) walking on its 2 heads
f) inversion (sensory head on the bottom) and walking on the bottoms of its spines
b) combinations of all or some of these!!!

I'm continually impressed with the way such a simple rendering with a nice skin can make these look so awesome. You'll have to teach me how to do this someday :D
Sphenacodon's avatar
A living Podracer!

It's pretty hard to imagine animals like this living on land. Maybe they evolved in the atmosphere instead?
thomastapir's avatar
"He flashed me with his vents!"

Yeah, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify this form from a land-dwelling perspective...I did a few sketches last night depicting limbed forms where the body is upright and the legs depend from the spinal columns where they interesect with the body, but that just looked awkward. And too conventionally radial.

You know something I was thinking might be cool?, if you imagine this guy (or his ancestors/relatives) as a bottom-dwelling form in which the "stomach bulb" is burrowed into the substrate. Fish (or whatever) swim between the spinal trunks (camouflaged as plants?) and are impaled on the proboscis!
Sphenacodon's avatar
"He flashed me with his vents!" Oooh, that sounds dirty... :D

That... that's awesome. It could start out as a sedentary animal, and then transition to swimming in water to escape from predators, and then move onto dry land. The first thing this reminded me of was crinoids, which are sedentary, can crawl, and have quite a lot of swimmers. And they sorta look similar to your critter too!
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