Long-Footed Spardi

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The Long-Footed Spardi split from its ancestor and made its home in Hydro. It is named for its greatly elongated raptorial foot, which is no longer vestigial and now serves to hold it off the ground, allowing it to stand a little taller, which in turn helps it to see over the Mauvecostrum and watch for predators. The long foot also contributes some extra support when taking off from the ground, though while it appears as a tripod while standing it does not use the foot for locomotion and remains an obligate biped. It is triple its ancestor’s size, as there was little competition especially in the tropical parts of hydro.

Though it will still scavenge for carcasses, the Long-Footed Spardi is largely herbivorous. Its lateral mandibles, though still mobile, have become less knife-like and more tusk-like, being used mainly for defense and intraspecific combat. As its food is plentiful and covers the ground, the Long-Footed Spardi mainly uses flight to escape from predators and it nests on or close to the ground. Its flight ability is comparable to that of a Terran chicken, though it is nonetheless capable of a short burst of speed on the wing. It is naturally leucistic, granting it a light pinkish purple coloration which blends in with the Mauvecostrum due to the color of its blood.

Like its ancestor, the Long-Footed Spardi is a heterotherm, though it acts more like an ectotherm due to it not generally flying for extended periods of time. Still, it can maintain warmth in its wings during flight, but it needs to bask to warm up. It retains parental care. Lacking claws to make a deep burrow, it does its best with its tusks and calloused toes to scrape something hidden in the Mauvecostrum fields to keep its babies hidden. Similar to a Terran rabbit, it only visits its nest twice a day to feed its babies. It instinctively will not eat the Mauvecostrum surrounding the nest to avoid exposing it. Both parents will participate in raising their offspring, but if one is eaten the other will have no trouble doing all the work. Mated pairs are known to fight with other pairs over the best nest locations. It mates by “holding hands” with the anal arm to perform a cloacal kiss and gives birth to dozens of tiny pseudo-radial babies, the majority of which don’t live to adulthood. Their babies mature quickly and their flight is instinctive.