Gillroot Puddleface

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The Gillroot Puddleface has replaced its ancestor within its range. Apart from being slightly more than twice the height the adult sporophytes are similar to their ancestors. Juvenile sporophytes however have developed the “gill roots” for which they are named. These gill roots are comprised of spongy tissue with a chitinous core derived from exoskeleton stem-cells that migrate inward during early development. Feathery extensions of the gill roots provide plenty of surface area for gas exchange. In addition to acting as gills the root gills are also packed with chemoreceptors which gives them an acute sense of smell. Smell and touch are their primary senses for finding food, water, and spawning areas but they also have a rudimentary ability to detect vibrations in the air and a concentration of photoreceptors near the dorsal mid-line of their last segment. This photoreceptor patch mostly acts to let them know if their tail is buried while they are planting themselves.

Juvenile sporophytes are amphibious, as long as their gills remain moist they can remain out of the water indefinitely. During metamorphosis the gill roots become the adult's roots. The abundance of chemoreceptors in these roots allows them to purposefully grow towards concentrations of water and nutrients