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Rugose Floater

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Am wayne barlowe rugose floater

"They were lazy creatures and they flew in wide, slow circles."

The Rugose Floater is a large, slow-moving, heavily-wrinkled floater from Darwin IV. A group was first discovered 10 kilometers in the air near Mons Burton in the Equatorial Mountains. It changes colors depending on conditions, like with a chameleon or a cephalopod.

They are lazy creatures, in no particular hurry, and they fly in wide, slow circles.

They are in many ways archetypal floaters, but a particularly intriguing thing is the small globules which trail their enlarged upper and lower fins; globules which are really egg masses. These light ova-globules break down and scatter on the wind, spreading the floater's tiny progeny through the planet's middle atmosphere. The slow, circular flight path affords the creatures the widest dispersal of their eggs. When spawning is complete, the floaters regain their more graceful profile, their fins being reduced to the original crescent shape.

There is no external evidence of gyro-stalks and instead these floaters have internal balance organs. This would make them unique among Darwin IV's floating species.

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When threatened, the rugose floater releases a cloud of chafflike particulates that fragment its sonar image in order to "blind" predators. It does not always work. This floater has just been pierced by marauding skewers, which have been known to kill for pleasure.

Another extraordinary feature of the rugose floater is its surprising ability to change color. This also is a unique characteristic among the creatures of Darwin IV, which are not optically equipped.

It is sometimes wondered whether there might be a correlation between the floaters' color and scent, and courtship scenes seem to support this theory. Individuals sometimes float roughly five kilometers apart from one another. There can be color shifts that seem related to their growing sexual excitement.

Mystery aside, the sight of these floaters changing their colors from brown to red to purple is beautiful.

AirCreatures

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