Speckguins

From 2speccers2tools wiki

The Penguin has long since been dethroned of its position as top marine predator even before The Sophontening, and in 2s2tworld’s present oceans, ironically became feeder stock itself; anything resembling dignity the species may have had is now utterly done away with. In a strange twist of irony however, this is also the moment in which the lineage witnessed its first bout of true diversity; swarming and nibbling at the blooms of smaller plankton, these descendant Penguins seek to carve a new identity from their present position in marine ecologies, becoming the Speckguins. While their days as predominant marine predators have long since passed, Speckguins have actually changed very little from their forebears. These unicellular zooplankton possess beaks of calcium carbonate which, supported by mobile proteins, extend out and nimbly chew up prey plankton to be heaved into an oral pouch lined with digestive enzymes. The wing-like projections and tail common to this genus are both reinforced with calcite rods, bolstering speedy propulsion as they swim in a manner not unlike a dolphin, if proportionally accelerated; smaller species however possess stiff cirri on these implements to further aid in propulsion. Paired bands of photoreceptors on a Speckguin’s “dorsal” side provide awareness of light intensity and some vague shapes. Serving a complementary sensory function, a ring of chemorecepetive pits enable Speckguins to locate and seek out concentrations of prey.

With the occurrence of plankton blooms, innumerable Speckguins congregate to feast on this bounty, often in such great concentrations that outside observers notice this as a submarine cloud of bold golden-yellow. Such prominent goldery is ripe for attracting larger planktivores like Ripplets and Baleenuses. Possessing very little defense against these inevitable arrivals, Speckguins of a species must instead make up for this with prolific numbers. These canaries produce copious, miniscule, haploid gametocytes which they expel into the water. Upon exchange with a receptive gametocyte, these produce miniature versions of “mature”, diploid Speckguins. This method of genetic exchange ensures that the genus enjoys healthy genetic diversity and owes to their speciation. There are numerous species of Speckguin found throughout the seas of 2s2tworld, many of which are difficult to discern from their cousins; in spite of this, certain trends among subgenera can be noted. The greatest concentrations of Speckguin species are found in cooler coasts where nutrients are abundantly supplied by currents and the water is rich with oxygen. The largest species are often found in the dark depths of The Fucking Trench (these species also lack plastids, appearing totally colorless).

Due to their the Speckguins’ success as planktonic hunters, they have pushed their ancestry out of such a life. Faced with the threat of extinction, the remaining populations of Penguin must settle into more obscure niches to survive.