From Sagan 4 Beta Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Kugard split off from its ancestor and became less dependent on water. It accomplished this by having offspring born with fully-developed limbs, allowing them to move about on land just as easily as adults. To resolve the issue of balance, it has a long neck which counters the weight of its organ-filled anal arm; the neck is flexible, able to turn over 180 degrees in either direction. It has lost its gills and tail fin, replacing the former with four tympanic ears and turning the latter into an awkward 2-fingered hand with a short vestigial middle finger. It retains the bones of its back fin, though it is now completely encased in flesh; its new purpose is to support the weight of its anal arm through muscle attachment. Larvae retain some vestiges of their ancestral state, as they are born with their organs stuffed into their neck and they migrate to the anal arm as they develop; this is because they are born head-first, and the neck organs streamline their shape so there’s no risk of their neck being twisted around and broken on the way out.

The Kugard’s anal arm is like the abdomen of a Terran arthropod in that it is behind the limb girdle and contains all major organs. It has a ribcage, and the ribs connect to the raptorial sternum which extends behind the limb girdle. The ribs do not go all the way to the end of the anal arm in order to better allow expansion in case of pregnancy or eating too much. The Kugard’s skin is glandular, like that of a hairless mammal or a frog. It doesn’t have to soak to keep its skin healthy, but it does need to drink plenty of water or get plenty from its food.

No longer having mobile gills to force air into its lungs, the kugard inhales using a ring of muscles on the inner side of its lungs. When these muscles contract, the lungs are forced to expand, as they are attached rigidly to the pelvic ring. As a side effect, the kugard cannot inhale and swallow at the same time, as the contraction of these muscles also briefly constricts the esophagus.

The Kugard is herbivorous, using its lateral mandibles to pull plant matter towards its mouth. The ends of its jaw bones are cartilage rather than bone, and its tooth-bearing lips are flexible and used to rasp away at parts of the plants which are too big or tough to simply tear off. The bases of the lateral mandibles are highly mobile, and they can be pulled so far to the front of the snout that it causes the upper lip to twist out sideways; instinctively, only one mandible can be extended this far at a time, as if both were to be pulled to the front at the same time it could fold or even break the upper jaw. To support the highly mobile lateral mandibles, the skin behind them is loose and wrinkly.

The Kugard is sexually dimorphic. Males have iridescent blue teeth and lateral mandibles and non-iridescent blue anal fingers; in females, the teeth and mandibles are a more cream or brown color while the anal fingers are purple like much of the body. Males display their teeth and lateral mandibles in a bizarre face-dance, sometimes competing with a rival; the luster of the teeth and mandibles serves as a health indicator, and females prefer healthier-looking males. When the female has chosen a male, they mate by interlocking their anal fingers and pressing their cloacas together. The skin around the cloaca is soft and puffy, allowing them to seal together better and therefore reduce the risk of spilling. After mating, the male sticks around long enough to prevent other males from attempting to mate with the female; once she is noticeably pregnant, identified by scent, the male leaves and the female must raise her young on her own. Gestation lasts about 3 weeks. Kugards give live birth to 3-5 offspring per breeding, and the mother takes care of her offspring until they are about 3 months old. At this point, young males and most young females leave, but occasionally a young female will stay with her mother and help her raise future offspring until adulthood at about 6 months of age. Kugards breed year-round and live about 3 years, though a captive or especially lucky individual can live up to 12 years.