Vine Asterplent

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The Vine Asterplent split from its ancestor. It has developed hydrostatic muscles in its leaves, which lose the muscular element in adulthood but retain the ability to fill with fluid. As an adult, this feature is used to move the leaves around to maximize sunlight absorption, while in juveniles they are used to capture prey. These vine-like appendages are segmented and have many leaf-shaped lobes, and they are not always perfectly identical on a single individual—the latter detail resulting in some individual Vine Asterplents technically being bilateral, but in a non-movement direction as they move perpendicular to the plane of symmetry their leaves are on.

The Vine Asterplent has also modified its reproductive capability. It has developed separation between its stomach and womb, now wombs plural—it has two of them. This allows it to breed without sacrificing its ability to eat, though adults have switched to an "opportunistic" feeding method and don’t technically need to eat ever; they will simply switch to mouth mode if something happens to climb on top of them and do not actively attract prey. This mouth-reproduction split persisted, however, because the juveniles have gained the ability to reproduce as well when they reach about half size. This is a fairly unusual development, as most organisms gain the ability to reproduce at or near adulthood, and it developed to allow for mate selection. Being able to pick a mate increases their chances of reproductive success, as they do not have to rely on the wind literally being in their favor. When juveniles reproduce, they copulate, meeting mouth to mouth similar to the plents they are named for from another time and place. To allow juveniles to reproduce effectively at their smaller size, the vine asterplent has redeveloped tiny, highly airborne babies and they do not lose their tufts until much later. It has also lost hermaphroditism in favor of having male and female variants, which optimizes the energy used to reproduce so that females can focus more energy into producing healthy babies.

The faunal juveniles of the Vine Asterplent have advanced further. They no longer consume microbes at all, even as tiny newborns. Their eyes now have large primitive lenses, and they are capable of twisting their bodies around to get a better look at potential prey. They can recognize prey by shape rather than just movement, and they have great enough vine-eye coordination to slap out their vines to catch them. All of this is reabsorbed in adults. Notably, the juveniles act as though they are aware of what they will lose on some level, as they are often hesitant to take root even when they have found a safe and suitable place. It is not uncommon for a juvenile to put off taking root until its hydrostatic legs give out beneath its increasing girth. They are certainly not smart enough to have such an existential crisis, so the reason why they do this is unclear.

Like its ancestor, the Vine Asterplent has hydrostatic muscles, a wooden basket-like endoskeleton, and an exhale-like motion for releasing spores and babies. Juveniles breathe passively through a "butt nostril" on their underside, while adults turn the juvenile respiratory system into their roots and breathe only through their stomata. The juvenile can pull back the skin of its butt nostril to better expose the respiratory roots, and it will also do this to drink. In its new separated mouth and reproductive system, it switches between the two with fluid sacks or hydrostatic muscles that push the reproductive openings—which are also associated with the endoskeleton, like the jaws—open. Juveniles kill prey by biting them to death, but can also digest them alive.