"With the onset of night, the Stripewings began to stir."

The Stripewing is a nocturnal, flightless, peripheral, gregarious flyer from around the Amoebic Sea of Darwin IV. It was discovered by Barlowe a day after his introduction with the littoralopes. They move around performing unpredictable antics.

These odd-looking creatures appear to be in evolutionary flux: they are winged and yet are unable to fly. When attempts are made (and these are not frequent) the two-meter-tall creatures will flap their stubby, beautifully striped wings in a vain effort to get airborne and will only manage a long hop. During the day the stripewings seem to lead a lazy lifestyle, bobbing on the undulating surface of the Amoebic Sea. At intervals they will simply extend their proboscises and begin to feed. The rest of the time, they do nothing but bob and doze.

But with the onset of night, the stripewings begin to stir. Heads pop up, wonderfully glowing wings unfurl, and the creatures rise to their feet on the shimmering, quivering surface of the gel. In a moment, what has been a peaceful scene is now a riot of movement as flocks begin their nocturnal rounds.

There appears to be nothing else on Darwin IV quite as outlandish as the wild chases the stripewings lead at night. For hours the troupes of gaudy-winged lunatics flap their way across the "sea's" surface in the most circuitous and erratic of patterns. All night the creatures hop, bound and cavort through the darkness, a tumbling jumble of green-banded wings and bodies.

Sleeping stripewing

The stripewings fold themselves into compact shapes for their diurnal sleep on the surface of the Amoebic Sea. Barlowe often saw vast flocks of them bobbing gently on the gel.

The reason for the strange behavior is puzzling. One theory is that these are pursuits of airborne micro-flyers. Another theory is that these are hormonally-triggered courtship rites. By the time the sky begins to silver, they have grown appreciably less energetic, slowing down. Daybreak finds the odd creatures wearily settled on the "sea's" surface, folding their wings and tucking their snouty heads down. They will gradually drop off to sleep, and it is then wondered if they are dreaming.

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