Red Plant Derivatives

Since red plants are essentially animals that horizontally acquired the ability to photosynthesize from algae, their reproductive form retains many animal-like traits, including the ability to move and eat. It should come as no surprise, then, that another type of animal might emerge from this group. As a need arose to for one red plant to disperse across oceans, its swimming larva evolved to hunt, respire, and produce copies of itself if necessary. This lineage gave rise to most of the megafauna on land and in sea. Most red plant derivatives are not photosynthetic. Instead, the pigments have been repurposed to carry oxygen in the bloodstream, giving the animals their characteristic pink hue.

Phylogeny of Red Plant Derivatives

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Buoyfish – As the name suggests, buoyfish are the closest relatives to the tropical buoyphyte that spawned the first independent larva. Although they don’t look much different from other aquatic red plant derivatives, buoyfish are the only remaining group that retained its photosynthetic plant form, which it carries in a throat pouch. In all other groups, its only function is reproduction.

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Suckerfish – In the past, suckerfish were an evolutionary grade, but only one clade remains today. They dominate many waterways as low-level predators and plankton eaters.

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Suckerworms – Like other aquatic RPD’s, suckerworms respire through spiracles on the skin. Most are parasitic or detritivorous saltwater creatures.

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Pantopods – Although they appear spherically symmetrical, they are nothing more than vertically compressed suckerworms. Advanced sodium channels and mucus glands allow them to thrive on both land and in water, fresh and salt. They use their spiracles as suction feet for rolling locomotion and food acquisition.

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Dippers – Also known as spoonworms, dippers evolved from an ancestor with two rows of suction feet and ten mouthparts, much like their cousins further down the tree. However, having adapted to a parasitic lifestyle, they hardly resemble their ancestor at all. They are specialized for red plant derivative hosts, latching onto their highly vascularized spiracles to suck blood.

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Earworms –  The eyes are often stalked so they can see above and around the ears, which can be quite prominent in some species. Many earworms are powerful predators, if slow by Earth standards, and can often take down prey larger than themselves.

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Beakers – Several of the animal’s mouthparts were repurposed as sensory organs and neck frills. The rest were reduced, leaving a beak derived from inner jaw structures. Most are plant-eaters. They have well-developed ears like their cousins, but they are internalized, with only an eardrum visible if anything at all.

Handworm

 

Hookbacks – These plant-eaters emerged from the Greater Ajax floating continent, but have since diversified. Those that still live there use hooks on their back to grab onto vegetation so they don’t get tossed about by violent storms and waves.

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Pinheads – Pinheads are the vermovillosids’ diminutive sister clade. These unassuming soil organisms are present all over Ilion’s habitable half. Few reach sizes larger than what can fit on the head of a pin. There are four orders which are known only by their greco-latin name, as are most species within the group. They help dead organisms decompose and are a food source for many small animals.

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Vermovillosids – The hairy grubs and their descendants are a broad group of furred, warm-blooded animals. The grubs are an essential part of the soil community in most land ecosystems, while their descendants make up a large portion of Ilion’s megafauna.

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Thoracostomes  – Also called thraxes, these animals are simply everywhere. Their simple design opens up a wide variety of niches and body forms. Even in the tundra, where their ectothermy seems ill-suited, thraxes make a home out of the backs of the resident megafauna.

Diversity

Assorted red plant derivatives

 

 

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