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Topics - nausved

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Spore: Creation Corner / Shellheads and More
« on: April 28, 2006, 08:54:26 am »
I have a number of creatures I've been thinking about and drawing, and I've decided to begin sharing some of them. As I come up with more, I'll probably post the new information and pictures in this topic.

The Shellhead (inspiration: ammonites, snails, anteaters, ants, monkeys, ostriches)

Meet the Shell-Headed Handstander, or Shellhead for short. This, of course, is not the name by which they refer to themselves, but it will have to to do because shellheads do not make any sort of meaningful noise. This is because Shellheads have no sense of hearing. Instead, they have a very strong sense of touch, which allows them to detect very minute vibrations in the ground or other surfaces. Their language consists of a complex structure of touches, similar to the communication ants use via antennae. Shellheads can also communicate over long distance by stamping the ground, creating patterns of vibration, but this form of communication is not as clear and complex as the touching sort.

Shellheads do have a limited sense of sight. This sense was stronger in their ancestors, whose head shells were smaller and therefore did not obstruct their vision quite so much. Modern Shellheads' sight is largely limited to color detection (for scavenging purposes) and movement detection (for predator detection). Their sense of smell is fairly strong--it is stronger than our own sense of smell, but it is not nearly so strong as, say, a dog's sense of smell.

Primitive Shellheads slept in trees at night and the hottest part of the day. In the mornings and evenings, they hung from the trees by their back limbs (which evolved into strong, gripping hands for this purpose) and grazed on grasses, mushrooms, fallen fruits, and other edibles on the ground. They developed very muscular tongues for this purpose and, to make up for their lack of teeth, a muscular gizzard for grinding up food prior to digestion. As they grazed, they supported themselves on their forelimbs (eventually evolving into feet) which allowed them to detect approaching predators by vibrations in the ground.

As time passed and the Shellheads became more complex, the need to take in more and more food grew. As such, Shellheads spent more and more time on the ground, developing stronger defenses (such as the bony shell protecting the brain and tender flesh of their very touch-sensitive faces) and losing their dependence on trees. Today, Shellheads live exclusively on the ground, though very young shellheads still play in the trees every now and then.

(An illustration of a primitive Shellhead and typical Shellhead communication.)

(An illustration of some Shellhead technology. Note that Shellheads communicate to their computers via a touch-sensitive object shaped like a Shellhead face, rather than something along the lines of a keyboard or mouse.)

The Stumpjaw (inspiration: snakes, trees, crabs, snapping turtles, four-eyed fish)

The Stumpjaw is one of the deadlier creatures on the Shellhead home planet, though they typically only prey on small animals and very young Shellheads. The nearly-sessile Stumpjaw is covered in rough scaled that are nearly identical to tree bark; these scales are home to moss, lichen, and other symbionts which provide further camouflage. Stumpjaws spend days, even weeks, waiting motionlessly in the woods, where their heads are obscured by low foliage. As they wait, they splay their legs out like roots. At the joints of their knees are carbon dioxide receptors; when a small animal happens by, the Stumpjaw "smells" the creature's breath. When this happens, the Stumpjaw will suddenly strike at its prey and crush it with strong alligator-like jaws. Stumpjaws have two sets of eyes which aid in this hunting process. One pair is aimed away from the head and toward the legs, such that the Stumpjaw can watch small animals as it waits for them to come into striking distance. They other pair is aimed toward the snout, so that the stumpjaw can see the animal as it attacks.

As local food sources are depleted, the Stumpjaw will move to a new location. This migration process is slow and energy-intensive for the Stumpjaw, but the reward--a fresh batch of unsuspecting forest animals--is great. Because Stumpjaws are never permanent residents to any particular area, most animals have not evolved the instincts or otherwise learned to differentiate between a Stumpjaw and a tree, making the Stumpjaw a particularly devastating predator.

The Heatoun (inspiration: dogs, owls, vipers)

One of the most frightening creatures the Shellheads share their home with is the Heatoun. Heatouns are dog-like animals which live and hunt in family groups. Heatouns have hoofed feet with claw-like knobs. These give traction, similar to the cleats that soccer players use. They have very, very muscular jaws, coupled with strong senses. Their sense of sight is relatively weak, but their senses of hearing, smell, and heat vision more than make up for it. They lack fleshy ears, but their skulls are specially shaped to capture sound waves; this is comparable to owls, whose faces are shaped to funnel noises to their ear canals. For smell and heat detection, Heatouns have a series of nostrils and depressions at the ends of their snouts; the numerous amount of these allows them to pinpoint the exact location of their prey, as they aid in depth perception.

Heatouns have been the traditional enemies of Shellheads. More recently, however, Shellheads have turned to domestication of Heatouns as protection from wild Heatouns and from other Shellheads. In addition, Heatouns' great senses of smell can be used to help forage for food. Fortunately Heatouns, being intelligent social creatures, are easily tamed.

The Inchbunny (inspiration: inchworms, rabbits, duck-billed dinosaurs, chip bag clips)

(Please note that this picture includes some different varieties of Inchbunny.)

Inchbunnies, comprised of many different species, are some of the most common animals on the planet. They are about the size of a deer, though some species are much larger or smaller. Species living on the plains live in vast herds and graze on grasses, while those living in more shrubby or woody areas live in smaller groups and eat leaves, twigs, and occasionally bark. They have very broad mouths, particularly the plains inchbunnies, and their eyes are wide set, such that they can see almost all the way around them. This, as well as their foot construction, allows them to run backwards nearly as easily as forwards in order to make a quick escape from predators.

They have large nasal cavities, allowing them to bugle loudly. When predators--usually Heatouns--appear, inchbunnies trumpet loudly, which can be heard by Inchbunnies on the other end of even the most gigantic of herds. The loud trumpeting may also frighten or stun inexperienced Heatouns. However, bugling is used most extensively during the breeding season, when inchbunnies woo potential mates and threaten competitors by warbling complex songs.

Shellheads would probably enjoy the breeding season music, if only they could hear. However, they find inchbunnies beautiful in another way; feeling the vibrations inchbunnies make when they run in unison is considered to be the most majestic thing one can experience, and it is one of the most common vibration patterns that Shellheads attempt to re-create in their ceremonies and vibrational "music".

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