Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How much more crazy can our planet get?

Rainbow squid

The rainbow squid is one of the ocean's largest species, and is a giant carnivorous descendant of squid, with a total length of 120 feet (36 meters) long. When hunting it can change colour and camouflage well. It is nearly at the top of the food chain but is still disturbed and hunted by the pack-hunting sharkopaths. Rainbow squid hunt ocean fish. To catch an ocean fish, the squid mimics a group of silverswimmers, the fish's prey. When a fish comes close, the rainbow squid will lash out and grab the ocean fish. Rainbow squids are, however, a banquet themselves for the sharkopaths who hunt them. When attracting a female the male displays flashing bioluminescence from which the species derives its name; as an unfortunate side-effect, this makes it easily visible to predators. Overall, the appearance of this future squid is quite different from any present-day squid.

Great blue windrunner

The great blue windrunner is a large bird with a wingspan of 3 meters (10 feet across). This bird inhabits the mountainous Great Plateau. Its ancestors are cranes. The Great Plateau is much higher than the Tibetan Plateau, so the great blue windrunner has to specialize to cope with the thin air. Birds are able to reach high altitudes but the thin air cannot hold up wings as well as the air near the ground, and the great blue windrunner must be adaptable to spend its winter in the lowlands. To solve its problem, the great blue windrunner evolved flight feathers on its legs, so it can use them as extra pair of wings for gliding by spreading them sideways in mid flight, like the prehistoric Microraptor. Its head also has feathery tufts which act as gliding wings to support its head in flight. At such high altitude, ultraviolet light leaks through the atmosphere. The great blue windrunner is covered in fluorescent blue feathers that reflect ultraviolet light. Great blue windrunners can also see in ultraviolet and use the light to recognize one another. Their eyes are protected from these high amounts of light by lenses which act as "built-in sunglasses". The great blue windrunners primarily eat silver spiders.

Ocean Flish

The ocean flish is descended from flying fish, which was one of the last fish - or vertebrates for that matter - on Earth 200 million years from now. Unlike the flying fish, the flish can accomplish something beyond any modern fish: flight. Today, flying fish use their broad fins for gliding. The flish takes this one step further. It attaches powerful pectoral fin muscles to its gill arches. It breathes air outside of water. The flish retains two pelvic fins for resting atop the oceanic surface. To provide more force for flight, the caudal fins rotated 90 degrees, so they are flat like the flukes of a whale. Because birds are extinct when flish evolved, the flish filled every niche of seabirds along the global ocean that surrounds Pangaea II. They hunt silverswimmers and are in turn hunted by rainbow squid. Flish hunt by expanding toothed jaws from its beak-like sheath.

Along the northwestern coast of Pangaea II, flish evolved to fit the role of forest birds. Unlike the oceanic flish, the forest flish has hook-like claws on its pelvic fins for hanging upside-down. They are also much smaller, taking on the role of old world hummingbirds and general forest birds.



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