Oceanic Lantern

From Sagan 4 Beta Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Oceanic Lantern is a surface-dwelling descendant of Carpotesta lanterna. Drifting through the water feeding on the numerous microorganisms that are present, an abundance of food has allowed it to grow to a larger size.

Using its eight fins, the Oceanic Lantern is able to better move through the water, either by using them as rudders to control direction and speed when in a current or by swimming with them in still water. Despite this, Oceanic Lanterns are rather slow creatures, being built more for drifting than controlled movement.

Like their ancestor, Oceanic Lanterns are capable of controlling their depth with the use of gas-filled pockets in their body. Oceanic Lanterns are able to detect light using primitive photoreceptors surrounding the edge of their mouth and use these photoreceptors to detect how deep they are. When an Oceanic Lantern is too deep, determined by an absence of light, it will move up in the water, while an abundance of light will make it move deeper in the water. This results in an interesting migration pattern where Oceanic Lanterns will move to the surface of the water during the night, triggered by the absence of sunlight making them believe they are too deep. Once the sun begins to rise however, the rising light levels trigger the Oceanic Lanterns to move deeper in the water to the twilight zone.

The light level detected by the Oceanic Lantern’s photoreceptors also triggers a response in its bioluminescent chromatophores. Spread throughout the body of the Oceanic Lantern, the chromatophores of this species are primarily blue in color, with the exact shade of blue depending on the amount of light detected by the photoreceptors. Low light levels like that of the twilight zone result in a darker blue, while higher light levels like in the sunlight zone result in a lighter sky blue color. While most predatory species rely on senses other than sight, rendering this inefficient camouflage, the ability of the chromatophores to change to match light levels in the water allows the Oceanic Lantern to distinguish natural light from the light of other Oceanic Lanterns.

Digestion occurs in a similar manner to its ancestor, with microscopic organisms sticking to the inside of the primitive stomach and being digested. However, the inner lining of the stomach is now coated in thousands of tiny cilia-like structures. These increase the total surface area of the stomach, allowing the Oceanic Lantern to digest greater amounts of food at once.

As with its ancestor, the Oceanic Lantern reproduces primarily by budding, sending microscopic clones of itself into the water column from underneath its fins then swimming upward to avoid consuming them. However, when injured or low on food it will reproduce by dispersing gametes in the water. The gametes are equipped with only flagella and basic chemical receptors to detect each other. The gametes detect the signals given off by spawning Oceanic Lanterns and swim towards them, merging with a gamete from the opposite sex to create a new Oceanic Lantern.