Paintface Swark

From 2speccers2tools wiki

As the oceans proliferated with plankton, these would attract countless plankton-eaters from all over; in turn, their numbers would draw in a number of predators seeking much meatier fare; among these predators is the recently-evolved Paintface Swark. Hailing from a population of pelagic Flasher Fisig, these fauna would gorge upon the booming numbers of potential meals, growing larger and swifter with each successive generation to make the most of these bounties. With only the giant Walrads to fear, these pigsh have cemented their prominence as medium-sized predators of pelagic fish-like fauna. As mentioned before, the Paintface Swark has made a number of adaptations in pursuing a variety of prey. The lid-jaw is set close to the base and possesses two sets of serrations - hook-like serrations for snatching up small, slippy prey; and a few prominent blunt projections for breaking through the lignaceous cuticles of barkfish. A set of densely-muscled cheeks not only provide a means of delivering an impressive bite, but if opened up swiftly and forcefully enough, can generate a small sucking current; this latter ability is especially effective in snapping up smaller, gregarious fare like Ripplets. The distinct structure of this lid-jaw also allows the Paintface Swark to chew up chunks of larger fare. The front arms also serve a role in capturing prey. While normally tucked underneath, these arms become outstretched to serve a variety of purposes, from blocking prey escape to spearing into the fauna itself.

Although not obvious in its ancestry, the Paintface Swark’s form is compartmentalized into segments, each containing blocks of dense muscle and skeletal supports of stannokeratin (keratin with trace tin-based mineral reinforcement). As a carangiform swimmer, it concentrates the majority of its muscular energy into its powerful tail, giving it both considerable speed and a potent smacking weapon, although at the cost of flexibility to change direction. The paired pectoral fins are retained to ensure stability. Often the intense swimming activity is enough to generate heat within the pigsh’s body, making it a mesotherm; while these traits combined make the Paintface Swark a very demanding creature, it replenishes the energy spent easy as hunting gangs are well attuned to the migration patterns of prey, following ocean gyres towards a variety of latitudes in search of plentiful food. Because the Paintface Swark’s activities also burn up a lot of oxygen, its gills have developed in accordance to these needs. Located along its medial segments and perhaps derived from the vents that oxygenate the assbrain directly, these gills are equipped to filter out as much oxygen from the water and into its blood as possible. Of course, gills that directly fuel the assbrain are still present.

Thanks to the added intellect provided by symbiotic assbrains, the Paintface Swark is a rather social fauna, readily communicating and cooperating with other specifics of its species. The cultures of Refulgidurus pisciphora that inhabited its ancestors’ eyes are now concentrated in ornate patches on the side faces of the head segment and on the lid-jaw. Maintained much the same as in the Flasher Fisig, signals ferried from the assbrain induce these cultures to glow in a variety of distinct frequencies, intensities, and even colors - all of which their hosts use to communicate among each other. Common subjects of which include coordinating hunts, expressing mood, and displaying receptiveness to mate, among others; it is worth noting that, due to the gregariousness of Paintface Swark life, lasting partnerships among individuals are quite frequently reported. The exceptional increase in brainpower also makes the paintface keen at problem-solving, utilizing different strategies for different kinds of prey. While The Bruh Within have evolved chiefly to break down pre-digested foodstuffs, their numbers provide an additional benefit in cleaning up excess spite expelled by their host’s assbrain. In some highly unusual instances however, this would lead to a breakout of bruhs suddenly turning ravenous in search of more spite, inadvertently damaging host tissues in the process.

Fast-moving shoaling prey such as pelagic Ripplets are often corralled by gangs of hunting Paintface Swarks. Members of the hunting gang readily alternate between pursuing the shoal from behind and surrounding from the sides and front, blocking potential escape routes. Larger, tougher prey like Snipplets and barkfish are instead wrestled to death thanks to the considerable force of their bite, though against the former, injuries are to be expected. Should food be in safe enough stock, infighting will remain exceptionally rare.

While having shifted to a primarily diurnal life, the Paintface Swark is still notably active in the dark of night. Similar to its ancestry, the OBM patches on its lid can illuminate the waters immediately within its sights, but because it prefers to hunt in open water, this is not used to get closer to prey (as it’s very conspicuous and likely to cause potential meals to scatter), but instead as a means of intraspecific communication. Also like its ancestry, a portion of its nutrient intake is used to fuel its OBM symbionts. Breeding involves a mixture of ancestral and newly-innovated traits. Paralleling the related Clipping Pigsh, mating involves the use of claspers, which the recipient Paintface Swark uses to latch onto the donor and stimulate its gonopores to expel gametes. As their gonopores produce both “egg” and “sperm” gametes, these pigsh would be considered hermaphroditic; both types of gamete each also contain a single assbrain cell. Once collected by the recipient’s inverted gonophores, the gametes conjugate with those stored within, exchanging genetic material, and start developing into the next generation. Unique for pigsh, new paintfaces are birthed live instead of being expelled as eggs beforehand. As the gonopores develop into womb-like organs, the developing pups are nourished by the mother’s blood vessels. After a gestation period of four months, the pups - usually in batches of four to six - finally emerge into the world, already able to see and swim with their mother, but are nonetheless dependent on her for the next few years. As intelligent, demanding creatures, parent Paintface Swarks must invest considerable time ensuring their offspring will develop into functional adult pigsh. The parents will share processed catches with their pups early on, though eventually they will have to teach them to hunt on their own. Due to their gregarious nature, other adult paintfaces may play similar roles in the rearing of young. Depending on the status of the gang and surrounding conditions, a number of teen-aged paintfaces will either stay within their ancestral group or be forced to move out, hopefully to join another gang.

The one potential prey variety Paintface Swarks almost never touch are the descendants of the Fusion walker. As their radioactive emissions directly damage the precious assbrain, generations of these pigsh have learned to avoid it in normal circumstances; only the most misfortuned of paintfaces would deliberately pursue such creatures just to get a meal.