Gillking

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The Gillking is a colonial, free-floating descendant of Gillstar which floats about in the open ocean in the form of spherical colonies, or zoons, of thousands of individual zooids, somewhat similar to some terran tunicates. Each member of the colony is connected to three neighbors by their tentacle-like anal fingers, which wrap around each other and stick together through partial fusion. This fusion can be temporarily undone in order to allow new zooids to integrate into the colony. The portion of the “intestine” organ which takes care of reproduction is separated from the waste funnel, which has its own exit which has moved further up the anal arm of each zooid so that feces will not intermix with gametes. The bodies of Gillking zooids are greatly simplified, losing the separation of skin and gut muscles in favor of simplicity better suited for colonial life. The gills of each zooid can catch larger organisms than before even though it cannot absorb them; these larger morsels are instead shoved into the mouth, where the larger catches are to be digested.

Mature and baby zooids
Male zooids constantly spray gametes into the hollow center of the colony, where they will either make their way into the reproductive tract of the females or be removed from the zoon through coordinated contraction in order to mate with another colony. New zooids are born directly inside the central cavity and eventually make their way to the surface, momentarily causing zooids to disconnect so they can rearrange to make way for the newcomers. Zooids are born radial, but are large and well-developed so that they can join the colony as quickly as possible; as a result, each female only gives birth to one baby zooid at a time. Zooids share nutrients to some extent through their connected anal fingers, but for the most part each zooid must feed itself. When two zoons meet, they will contract in order to spray their respective gamete supplies at one another before sucking back in what they can from the resulting mixed gamete cloud, helping to maintain genetic health and diversity. If a zoon is broken up, as long as the fragments include both male and female zooids they can become new zoons.