Life of Terra Nova, the Spintree
Terra Nova is an exoplanet I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years now. In my RPG times I’ve GM’d a couple of sessions on Terra Nova (some of them good, some of them flops), this helped me to get some nonsense and impractical ideas thrown out. Let’s introduce you to the planet itself.
TN is the fifth planet of an atypical binary system, composed of a brown dwarf and a G-type main sequence star, slightly more massive than our sun. This creates a wide elliptical orbit for planets within the system. Because of this, TN has a wide array of weather conditions which would be inhospitable to most earth life, but the florofauna of TN has adapted in various ways to the chaotic weather patterns of the planet. I will disclose a lot more detail about TN in another article soon.
The Spintree is an organism that from a distance resembles a palm tree with vertically oriented leaves. Upon closer inspection the illusion fades however revealing some adaptations characteristic to life on TN.
The brownish-yellow organism is rooted to the ground with hooks that on a microscopic level resemble roots. Their surface is very abrasive which helps them to hold on to the ground.
The “trunk” is composed of a semi-flexible “spine”, which helps keep the organism erect and is surrounded by muscle-like tissue organized in a spiral pattern. In the Spintrees erect posture these muscles are mostly relaxed and most of them coil around the spine (usually around 240 degrees).
The top of the trunk fans out into a system of sails held together by connective tissue that is a lot less dense than the spine itself. The organism has anywhere from two to eight sails depending on the point of its life cycle. The tree usually starts out with eight sails, but during its lifetime it loses most of them due to damage and predation.
The primary defense mechanism of the Spintree is actually where it gets its name from. When endangered by strong winds, predators or intense radiation from TN’s primary star, the muscles around the trunk contract and the tree folds into something resembling a pod with a violent spinning motion. This sometimes kills any florofauna (including young Spintrees) that get in to close to the organism; this is why usually Spintree “forests” have uniform spacing between adult individuals.
The diet of the Spintree consists entirely of aeroplankton caught into its sails, with the sun’s radiation along with digestive juices liquefying the plankton. Liquid nutrients are moved into the honeycomb via capillaries and from there distributed to where they are needed.
Reproduction - The Mobipod
When a Spintree loses its final sail it releases it’s “fruit” called mobipods. These organisms are basically biological batteries with four long legs similar to that of a spider. Their bulbous tissue is rich in energy storing chemicals (similar in function to carbohydrates). The center of the mobipod contains a seed that will in time develop into another Spintree. The surface is photoactive and can change its color and pattern. Under the legs one can find organs that are capable of echolocation and mimicking a wide array of sounds from the environment. It does not use these adaptations to avoid predation, quite contrary, the mobipod wants to be eaten. Upon detection of a predator, it assumes the color and pattern of its favorite prey while giving off sounds that are meant to attract its doom.
The mobipod does not eat, sleep, or ingest material of any kind. It runs on its own supply of energy and dies when it runs out.
Once eaten, the mobipod’s seed will be expelled from the predator as undigested waste and will grow into a brand new Spintree.
Upon first contact with humans, the mobipods, not having any coded response to the humanoid form, started to mimic random sounds made by the explorers, including words and sentences. Their skin started emulating limbs, faces and pieces of equipment, giving them the nickname “goblins”.
- Average height: 10m;
- Single sail span: 50m;
- Lifespan: 5-20 earth years;
- Leg span - 30cm;
- Pod radius - 5cm;