Scrungulating Barkfish

From 2speccers2tools wiki

As most Nomsalps kept diversifying for relatively passive planktonic or sedentary lifestyles, a few groups started to become more active pelagic hunters. The scrungulating barkfish is the most complex of these hunters at the time it evolved, having numerous features that better suit its free-swimming lifestyle. Having evolved from an unusual species with a comparatively short rostrum, the barkfish appears backwards compared to its relatives.

The earliest trait that appeared in the lineage leading up to the scrungulating barkfish is its entirely heterotrophic lifestyle. It has lost almost all of its photosynthetic surface (save for one important exception) in favor of more appropriate countershading and a tougher, somewhat bark-like exterior, hence its name. The scrungulating barkfish is a suction feeder, drawing water into its gut cavity along with whatever prey item happens to be near its mouth. To facilitate this more active lifestyle, the inside surface areas of both the gut cavity and the siphon cavity have increased, albeit for different reasons. The gut cavity is now covered in rudimentary bumpy projections to help increase surface area for digestion and to house extra sunscreen microbes, which protect the barkfish from its sometimes radioactive prey. The siphon, however, has developed a frondly structure right above the anus, serving as a rudimentary gill. This setup is similar to Terran cephalopods, and is somewhat active due to the water being pumped over the gill during jet propulsion.

As they are no longer being used for photosynthesis, the leaves have been modified into stiff rays which are webbed together to form a maneuverable fin. Muscle-like tissue at the base of these leaves allow the fin to deform, aiding in steering and allowing the barkfish to use a slower and more deliberate method of travel in addition to its jet propulsion. The sporophore is located ventrally near the middle, and is very short and compact to minimize drag. Like some of its relatives, the scrungulating barkfish has developed seedlike coatings over its zygote spores, allowing its offspring to hatch large and developed enough to not be completely considered as helpless plankton.

The scrungulating barkfish relies entirely on chemoreception to hunt its prey, able to smell the faint scent of radfauna, boxfauna, and el goblin derivatives with every part of its body. The last of its photosynthetic cells have been modified into light-detecting patches on the upper and lower sides of the snout, allowing the barkfish to orient itself in the water and seek cover in dark places when pursued by predators.

In order to jet propulse, water is drawn into the siphon cavity and expelled from the same cavity, pulling water towards and away from the gill in the process. The gut is connected to the siphon cavity by the internal anus, but is not directly involved in jet propulsion.

A look at the internal anatomy of the Scrungulating Barkfish.