Biotic Zones of Junction (fauna)

You may not have noticed the new entry in the “stories” section of the menu. So here’s the official page of my next sci-fi novel, Junction.

The following are some of my notes for the project (previously called “Router”) published on Deviantart. I’m sure I’ll end up changing some things, but for the moment, here’s a look at the alien life in the story. (scroll down for descriptions)

Z-1: No large animals, only worm and slimemold-like burrowers and the diverse zoophytes produced by the plants.

Z-2: (tape tree zone). The rigid, metallic “skeleton” of the Z-2 macrofauna runs in a helix shape between the internal organs and the outer cuticle. Hard claws on the bottom edge of the helix grip the soil, and the animal moves by contracting and relaxing the helix in waves. For faster movement, they can stand on their tails, compress the entire helix at once, then launch themselves into the air by spring action. (don’t ask me what they breathe, since the plants on their home-world consume oxygen)

Z-3: (antler tree and borehole zone). Sometimes called “macrodiatoms,” these amorphous animals secrete a silica test around themselves. The most common grazers (land urchins) range from the size of golf-balls to basket-balls, and move by sliding around the inside of their test, extruding their bodies through the hollow tubes in their test to digest plant matter. Other forms include burrowers and the giant wheel-zillas (seen in more detail here: [link])

z-4: (puff ball zone) On a planet that never evolved the protein actin, these animals use collagen and water pressure to move their branching limbs. They are therefor rather slow-moving, but have evolved a secondary system of ratchets and resilin “springs” to trigger sudden movement.

Z-5: (prism tree zone) The most earthlike animals on Router, with contractile muscles, internal skeletons, and bilateral symmetry. Most notable for their possession of a single row of limbs down the ventral side.

Z-6: (babel tree zone) Animals on this world grow limbs by extruding pectin-filled bladders into a mesh of bone spicules. The animal sequesters magnetic minerals throughout this mesh, and when stimulated by electrical signals from the brain, these magnetic bundles attract each other, causing the limb to contract.

Z-7: (deathray moss zone) Though superficially similar to giant insects, these animals have more in common with the growth patterns of echinoderms, described by one observer as “basically a stack of sea-urchins.” There is also evidence to suggest that these creatures left their ancestral ocean as fliers (perhaps at a time when their planet was flooded), and only later colonized the land.

Z-8: (kelp tree zone) Hard skeletons never seem to have evolved on this planet. Instead, its hoop-shaped animals build armor out of found objects (sand, rock, sponge, and plant material). Most intriguing are the eusocial “toy-maker worms,” colonies of which build and pilot complicated wheeled vehicles. Power is derived from the worms themvles, which twist their flexible hoop-shaped bodies around their machines, storing tension which they then release when they want the vehicle to move forward. Individually, these worms are not intelligent, but the behavior of large colonies exhibits striking complexity.

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