Land Animals on Shalimar
Shalimar has a rich and diverse collection of land animals. The first animals that came up from the sea were small, herbivorous worms that could hide in the damp carpet plants, and tiny triangularians that were protected from dehydration by their tough plates. These tiny animals feasted on the land plants, and were soon joined by small grabbers who preyed on them. Some tiny xers, protected by their tough skins, also crept about in the damp vegetation near the sea.
Over time these pioneers diversified. The triangularians did especially well, becoming ravenous herbivores who gorged themselves on the green plants. The grabbers became quicker and fiercer: they began to prey on the triangularians. Grabbers, having exoskeletons, were able to protect themselves from dehydration. However, their breathing apparatus was very primitive, and proved inadequate to support increases in size. The grabbers occupied niches similar to those occupied by insects on earth, eating flesh and vegetation where they could find it. They became rapid movers, and one branch even developed wings. They are a very successful life form on Shalimar.
The triangularians also prospered. Some became long, slender, and swift, like snakes. Some remained slow but increased in size. Having a breathing tube made the transition to air breathing possible, which allowed them to become up to thirty inches high. However, most triangularians are small.
Triangularians are formidable eaters, and will eat anything organic in their path, including other triangularians. They are stupid animals, surviving by being well protected by their plates and well able to eat anything in their path. Shalimar is swarming with triangularians of all sizes.
The xers also thrived on land. At first they escaped the triangularians and grabbers by taking refuge in the taller plants: as they prospered the first, dime-sized xers grew larger and larger.
Xers need to eat other animals, and they are able to catch and hold the triangularians with their sucker-studded arms. The triangularians are faster than the xers, but there are so many of them that the xers can catch enough of them to survive.
The triangularians, however, will also nibble on the xers, and this creates a problem for the xers. Some of the xers are arboreal, living in the trees and hanging onto the branches. Other xers are ground-dwelling and live in small groups so that they can catch the triangularians and eat them when one of the xers is under attack. These xers, like the ones in the oceans, walk on the inner part of their arms and use the outer part of the arms for manipulating objects in the environment.
The xers appear to be becoming intelligent, and we look forward to studying them further. Three groups appear to be intelligent: the ground-living groups, the tree-dwelling xers, and the floating xers in the water. All seem to live in groups at least part of the time.
© Elizabeth Anne Viau, 1996. This material may be used freely for instructional purposes but not sold for a price beyond the cost of reproduction. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you use this material. I'd be interested to know how it works for you!