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Quetzalscooter (Scootypuffjr plumeis)

Ancestor: Serpentinuscooter

Habitat: Hydro Tropical Coast, Oz Temperate Coast

Size: 1.3 m Long

Diet: Omnivore (Twinkiiros, Hitchhiker Scuttler, Scuttleball Gillfin, Greater Wolley, Sardchovy, Diamond Pumpgill, Royal Scylarian), Scavenger, Photosynthesis

Reproduction: Sexual, Two Genders, Spawning

Week: 26

Gen: 160

The Quetzalscooter split from its ancestor, the Serpentinuscooter. Its adaptations have allowed it to spread to the somewhat colder waters to the north in the Oz Temperate Coast.

The most noticeable of these adaptations are the fibrous fronds that grow across the surface of its body. These feather-like fronds developed from the charge-carrying spikes present in its ancestors (although the larger head-spines are still present) - the central stem of each frond consists of a tight braiding of insulated conductive fibers coated in a thin membrane. Fibers split out from the stem at semi-regular intervals, and they have no insulation outside the stem membrane. Each individual fiber carries a charge from the electrical organs in the skin. The average ratio of positive to negative charge fibers across the whole body is approximately 1:1, but each individual frond is biased towards one or the other. When two fibers in a frond get close to each other, a current passes between them, although it is weak because fibers in the same frond tend to have similar charges. When fibers from two different fronds get close, or when they create a circuit through some unfortunate prey, the charge differential is usually much greater, and the shock much more severe. Intra-frond circuits serve to create a shifting electrical field around the Quetzalscooter, which can distract or stun nearby fauna, while inter-frond circuits serve to make the shocks that can disable or kill prey. The electrical discharge around the body also creates heat, which means that the Quetzalscooter has to expend less energy on keeping its interior at a suitable temperature in the colder waters of Oz. Most specimens have fronds that average around 7 cm, but there is a significant sexual and natural selective pressure in favor of longer fronds - Quetzalscooters find longer fronds more attractive, and longer fronds allow the Quetzalscooter to more easily catch its prey. However, longer fronds require more voltage and a greater charge differential across the electrical organs, due to the electrical resistance of the charge-carrying fibers.

The Quetzalscooter cannot voluntarily move its fronds, so they stick out at all angles in order to provide the greatest volume for catching prey. This is rather non-hydrodynamic, so the Quetzalscooter is slower than its ancestors, but its electrical abilities more than make up for the loss of speed.

With these adaptations for hunting, the Quetzalscooter has begun to feed on larger prey, such as the Royal Scylarian, and it has become longer in order to better digest large amounts of food. Quetzalscooters tend to eat by disabling their prey with electricity and then swallowing it whole. To assist with this, most of the body consists of a two-chambered digestive tract - one chamber in front filled with acid strong enough to dissolve bone and most metals, and another chamber after that filled with enzymes to extract the maximum possible amount of energy from prey. Their mouths can also be opened up to a wide angle, with a maximum diameter significantly larger than the usual diameter of the body. These digestive improvements are necessary, because maintaining charge differentials across the electrical organs requires a large amount of energy. Even with this high-efficiency digestion, consumption alone cannot provide enough energy for the Quetzalscooter to survive. It now relies on photosynthesis far more than its ancestors, with photosynthesis providing about 15% of the energy needs of the organism. As such, Quetzalscooters are confined to the shallows, and those that go deeper than about 50 meters risk starvation.

The Quetzalscooter’s fronds are mostly transparent, so the Quetzalscooter’s body appears green like its ancestor. However, the residual head-spines have become more brightly pigmented, and sexually dimorphic: males have red spines, and females have yellow spines.