Fauna Loki: Chapter 8
The fauna of the planet is divided into many types. There are many organisms that would correspond to fungi and decomposing animals. These are mainly transformers. Many of these live in symbiosis with the larger chemosynthetic plants. One variety attaches itself around the base of the chemosynthetic plants and feeds on all the sulfur leavings that flake off, as well as bits of plant and proteins left by other animals. The other main variety of transformer is either attached to, or nests on, the chemosynthetic plant. These are occasionally parasitic, but for the most part they consume only the excess sulfur and surrounding detritus.
The animal life on the planet consists mainly of four different phyla. The first is the Scrubbum, or ``sponge-things.'' There are many varieties of filtering animals, all of which have been classified in this phylum. Most of these animals live in close proximity to the volcanic vents, and survive by eating the bacteria from the vents. Most of these animals have developed methods of extruding the excess sulfur. The most common method is developing a skeleton or a bunker-like house of calcium sulfate. In fact, these skeleton producers are used on occasion by the sentients of the planet to make shelters.
The second phylum is the Chitum, or "chitin-bodied" These are very similar to terrestrial arthropods. Most of the chitums are very small, and live on bacteria and the algae of the surface or the volcanic vents. There are numerous species, however, that are among the largest species on the planet. Some species range up to 3 meters long. These chitums are ferocious, and are so resistant enough to cold that they are able to brave the distances between the cold with little loss of energy.
The third phylum is the Osteodorsum, or "back-boned". This is a relatively rare phylum. Very few of the osteums are larger than 5 centimeters long. These osteums are reminiscent of earth fish. Most osteums are blind, and live in the forests of algae on the ocean floor. No known species of osteum is capable of traversing the distance between vents without dying. The osteums are very closely related to the notochordates, but appear to be an evolutionary dead-end.
The final phylum is the Notochordatum, or "spinal-corded". This phylum appears to be the dominant phylum, although the chitums are also very close to their power. The notochordates have a spinal cord enclosed in cartilage and chitin, instead of bone. The combination gives them more flexibility and more speed. The notochordates range in size from near microscopic to about 1 meter long. Many of the smaller notochordates are fragile enough to require food constantly. The larger notochordates, most notably the sentient notochordate, are capable of vast trips between the vents, although they are very susceptible to attacks by the chitums while in between vents. Most of the notochordates resemble elongated earth jellyfish, although the size and shape do vary considerably.
These phyla represent a respectable amount of diversity for a planet that by all rights should have almost no life at all. With no sun, there should be very little energy. However, the tides, the sulfur, and the little solar energy the planet does get make this life very different from life based on the earth-like system.
Sat Feb 18 00:31:33 MST 1995