Cryostud

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The cryoplate of the Drake Polar Coast has made some crucial advancements to surviving in its environment. The colony has now become a single organism with differentiated cells. It can grow to be twice the size of its ancestor and now forms a shallow dome. To provide structure to the dome, the Cryostud excretes minerals from its undersides to accrete a small stud made of a mesh lattice of silica spicules. This “stud” provides a stable footing and gives it more surface area to utilize for photosynthesis as well as providing a refuge for when it must go dormant during the long polar night. The stud's outermost layer includes a latticework of chambers which house cells designed for dormancy. When winter comes and sunlight disappears, the photosynthetic outer cells die and form an added protective layer on the studs surface, while the cells on the inner layer lie dormant until spring. Then when sunlight returns the dormant cells awaken and rapidly produce new photosynthetic cells to start growing again. In summer when a Cryostud has grown to .5 mm wide, they will reproduce by replicating chains of photosynthetic cells from the edge of the dome. When these break off and drift away to settle in a new area, a new Cyrostud will grow. Their growth speed is determined by the availability of silicates in an area and grow faster in regions with high silica concentrations. Rivers and river mouths provide a great source of annual silica and populations of Cryostuds that have developed tolerance to lowered salinity have expanded into them.