Most of these C-S transformers are sessile,
plant-like, although they would be closer to Earth fungi than
plants. The structure consists not of valuable carbohydrates,
but of a chitin-like substance that contains a goodly percentage
of sulfur. These transformers have adapted so marvelously that
there are very few of the IR plants or the chemosynthetic colonies
that don't have quite a few of these transformers.
The planet also possesses an
incredible amount of life that depends upon the deposition of
minerals to survive. Given the number of sulfur depositors, it
comes as little surprise that some of these use the deposits to
protect themselves. They build a tube out of the sulfur, which
helps to anchor the chemosynthesizers near their favorite heat
vents. These deposits also attract omnivores that process the
sulfur into oxygen. This leads to animals hunting over extinct
volcanic beds, digging up sulfur tubes. Interestingly enough,
this is one of the few life forms seen away from the heat vents
With these many paths that evolution
took on this world, the flora is quite diverse. However, the animal
life on the planet appears to be stunted. There is relatively
little mobile animal life, as compared to a world such as Earth.
The life consists entirely of sea life, although there is possible
evidence of sporadic animal life on the surface.
There are many sessile animals
around the volcanoes. These stationary animals feed by filtering
out lots of the microscopic plankton analogue. This plankton consists
of microscopic sulfur bacteria and a number of small crustaceans
and medusa-like omnivores who eat them. The plankton is the main
link of the food chain on this planet. The plankton survives by
riding in the hot water above the volcanoes, trying to stay out
of reach of the other predators. It is only the plankton that
is swept out of the volcanic heat that get eaten.
The sessile animals are often
also sulfur transformers as well. They will occasionally collect
under a large stand of algae, and survive on dead plants and the
sulfur extruded by the chitinous transformers. Most of these animals
are very similar, however, to the sponge of Earth, save that their
skeleton is much richer in sulfur, as a consequence of the immense
The primary mobile animals in
the sea appear to be divided into two phyla. There are the animals
which are quite similar to arthropods on Earth, with complete
exoskeletons of a material similar to the material used by the
fungi-like organisms, a chitin-like substance with additional
sulfur atoms, which acts as strong as regular chitin, but is not
affected by the eccentric ocean chemistry. There are also animals
with internal shells and skeletons. These are divided into the
notochordates and the vertebrates. The vertebrates have a similar
backbone structure to Earth fish. The notochordates have a smaller
nerve channel surrounded by cartilage and a chitinous substance.
The arthropods are nearly as
varied on this planet as on Earth. For every niche in the ecosystem,
there are arthropods. Some microscopic arthropods live almost
directly over the volcanic vents, consuming whatever algae or
chemosynthetic bacteria are around. Many more act as carriers,
moving back and forth between vents, acting almost as if they
were spreading or pollinating the algae. The largest of the arthropods
are nearly 1.6 meters long, and weigh nearly fifty kilograms.
These arthropods are adapted as carnivores, using huge pincers
to grasp smaller animals and slice them up for eating. Many smaller
arthropods are herbivorous, eating edges off of the large plants
that surround most vents.
The vertebrates on the planet
are nearly identical to the fish of early Earth. The fish seem
to have branched off very early from the notochordates, who in
turn branched off even earlier from the arthropods. The fish on
the planet today are for the most part very small and quick, surviving
in a niche similar to the niche of birds in a forest. The fish
concentrate on speed, and survive by nipping out and eating quickly,
and then darting back into the algal growth. None are believed
to be transformers or chemosynthetically oriented. Fish are not
common at all between vents.
The notochordates are the most
interesting of the lot. They are more diverse than the fish. They
are also more numerous than the larger arthropods. There are a
number of smaller notochordates, which appear to fit into the
niches of small fish, or of medusa. In fact, some of the first
life observed on the planet were pseudo-medusae. The discovery
of the notochord in these medusae was quite shocking, as most
biologists had theorized that evolution would not produce notochords
until much later in the evolutionary cycle. However, the notochordates
appear to be the most advanced branch of animal life on the planet.
They have evolved sleep mechanisms that allow travel between vents.
In fact, one species of the notochordates appears to be sentient.
They use rocks as tools, and have also been seen using living
coral as shelter and algae for weaving.
Sat Feb 18 00:31:33 MST 1995