Tidal Leafstar

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Split off from the Rooted Leafstar lineage, the Tidal Leafstar is distinguished by the fact that it does not become denser as it matures. This allows adults to settle on beaches, where they are safe from most of their ancestral predators except during high tide. To adapt to this new exposure to air and sunlight, the Tidal Leafstar has developed microscopic structures similar to stomata arranged in a grid pattern on each of its four leaf-lobes. These allow it to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. To protect it from desiccation, it has also developed an even thicker, more plant-like cell wall in adulthood; this renders adults completely immobile, unlike their ancestors which could still move their leaves to deter predators, simply because their muscles are not designed to move something more firm.

The tidal leafstar is otherwise much like its rooted leafstar ancestors; its larvae float freely in the open ocean where they swim to right themselves and stay near the surface, adults anchor themselves into sediment using their root-like baits, and it reproduces with water-borne spores ejected from the edges of the leaves. Its spores are carried out to sea by the tide, allowing it to reproduce despite its reproduction not yet being optimized for land.