Sunday, February 4, 2007

Preliminary Design - Barnards' Swordswallower

I lack a scanner, but I think the dirty look of a digital photograph has its own rustic charm.

This concept will be a planktivore, eating the tiny creatures surrounding it in the water, so its a kind of analogue to the whales of earth. Like the whales it is also huge; I would be thinking about 20 metres [65 feet] long, so just a little bigger that a sperm whale, the biggest thing on Earth with teeth.

Unlike whales it is not warm blooded and has a metabolism more akin to a snail, lacking warm blood but highly energy efficient, important as it is a slow swimmer and would starve if it needed to eat frequently.

The anatomy of this creature requires some explanation, so here are what those numbers on the sketch denote:

1: Looking like a knife blade, long and laterally compressed, this is the swimming fin and works much like the undulating sides of a cuttlefish or squid. It pulses a wave down its length, which as well as moving the critter around also draws water into the cavernous mouth at the tail end, increasing its feeding efficiency at no extra cost.

2+3: The feeding apparatus - I will make this clearer in the upcoming cutaway drawings, but the egg shaped part opens like a clamshell, releasing the billowy feeding filter out its back. Plankton pushed into this sieve by the main fins' undulations are caught in a thin fiber mesh covered in mucus. This sticky slime is constantly secreted and gradually moves to the bottom of the feeding sieve, taking its catch with it. The animals' mouth is at the bottom of the filter, with its 'neck' forming a tube into the body cavity, and the stomach, where the plankton/mucus mix is digested.

4: Germ cell package. Barnards' Swordswallowers are hermaphrodites, releasing these reproductive strings when they sense others of their kind nearby. They disintegrate on release, mixing with other strings to form larvae which drift out to sea on the currents

5: Gills; take in water, take out oxygen, like most earth fish.

This blog is an open forum: I want your ideas, your input and criticisms: lets make the best aliens of all time.


Rhys said...

Very nice sketch Alex, and great to see your development stages, you are also right about the scanner vs. photograph statement, most of the time scanners will over expose a sketch, which is fine for line art work, but for interesting sketch presentation the camera does the job fine.

RPBnimrodd said...

I love your stuff so much. I would suggest that you apply for an astrobiology job at (hmm, whatever Australia's NASA equivalent is!). I am a budding astrobiologist, and I find your stuff so inspiring!