Hobblenom

From 2speccers2tools wiki

The Stacknom has always been a peculiar flora. Awkwardly equipped with three redundant hearts, it demanded a disproportionate intake of water and energy just to not perish, especially when compared to simpler flora of its size range. Due to this, its ranges were restricted to sheltered shorelines where competition was at its minimum. One would think that the Stacknom would be doomed in due time as better-adapted flora inevitably encroach on these refugia, but there is a surprising hope to this flora’s lineage. While the Stacknom itself consigned to extinction, it did not do so without leaving behind descendants more functional as organisms. One branch would spawn the Wetnom: a marine nomweed which would in turn spawn a lineage of recent, yet successful seagoing planimals. Inland however, these ersatz Stacknoms took a different approach to a more mobile life; with many generations of genetic drift and just a bit of radiation-induced genome meddling from Oof Mamals, these nomweeds gave rise to the highly distinctive Hobblenom. At first glance, the Hobblenom does not outwardly diverge from its ancestry much, only being shorter and down one frond whorl; but look closer - this flora hides many idiosyncratic peculiarities. At its base lies the third set of fronds, thicker and stouter than the whorls above them, and marginated with firm bristles. Underneath the fronds of the upper two whorls are many fine hairs. For a seemingly sessile organism whose range only encompasses the humid subtropics of Oofle, the functions of both these adaptations are puzzling…

Until one would disturb it.

Now the Hobblenom reveals its namesake: all of the sudden it unfastens its lowest fronds from the soil and hastily skitters away! The hairs under the main photosynthetic fronds are quite keen to disturbances, and should it detect any, its lowest fronds get to work, serving as locomotory nubbins, and the stiffer hairs that rim them aid with traction and digging a new home patch. While this appears to be a very inefficient means of defense for a flora, it is important to recognize that the Hobblenom only performs this only under the utmost necessity, such as escape from predators or to relocate to a sunnier, more fertile rooting spot. Like with the related Wetnom (and descendant barkfish), the mechanisms responsible for the Hobblenom’s hobbling are derived from those same redundant hearts which detrimented their ancestry. One heart radiated out into a network of muscle encompassing much of the nomweed’s form, and this is directly responsible for its motility, allowing its lowest fronds to flex and push against the ground. Another heart has derived into a densely-muscled chamber which the roots are pulled into; this way the Hobblenom’s roots would not get into the way of its, well… getaway. As the root tips are lightly exposed in this instance, these sometimes pick up airborne organic particles along the way, contributing to a minor, yet notable extra gain in sustenance. Only when a suitable patch is found does the chamber release the roots. The remaining heart functions much like with the ancestral Nomweed itself - distributing essential compounds throughout the flora’s body.

The Hobblenom is skittish in temperament, sometimes scurrying in a panic at the lightest of disturbances. It’s also an unsophisticated navigator, relying only on the sun’s rays for directional aid. As a consequence of this, groves of Hobblenoms often blunder into each other to the amusement of certain observers. In the mild, brief winters of its range, activity drops considerably as to minimize heat and energy expenditure.

With the arrival of the spring rains, many Hobblenoms convene to exchange gametes via the sporophore. Conjugated gametes form diploid zygote spores which, once settled into a suitable patch of soil, develop into young Hobblenoms. Due to their smaller size, these morphs are markedly more agile than their parents.