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Unnamed Flyer

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Unnamed flyer
The Unnamed Flyer is a small, yellow flyer from the plains of Darwin IV, with no official common name, that bears a strong resemblance to a very young butchertree. It was first discovered one late afternoon during the First Darwinian Expedition near the Chasma Cook in Planitia Australis.

Riding on the still, warm air, this small flyer can insinuate itself amidst the dancing growths of butchertrees. The flyer blends in remarkably well, its color, shape, and movements cause it to disappear in the surrounding waving yellow fronds.

The cause for this mimicry becomes immediately obvious when a larger creature, such as a prismalope, is in hot pursuit of it. The pursuer will search around the base of a large butchertree in search of the flyer.

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The butchertree's underground tentacles terminate in fronds (left) which are mimicked almost perfectly by the enigmatic flyer (right). In this unique symbiotic hunting partnership, the flyer serves as the bait, while the frond is the hook.

The flyer is difficult to spot under the hanging branches. Its flying pattern alternates between freezing near the fronds and darting rapidly from one frond to another. When it freezes it is very difficult to tell from the growths. This ultimately has the pursuer killed and drained of fluids by the great butchertree.

The intimacy that the butchertree shares with the unnamed yellow flyer leads to speculation on a few possibilities. The flyer may be nothing more than an opportunistic symbiote gleaning morsels from the butchertree's kills. But somehow this is not convincing. One guess is that the flyer is, in some way, responsible for the continuance of the species. It acts as a lure for the butchertree; this is the most obvious contribution. It is also, however, an ideal candidate to carry sperm or eggs from one butchertree to the next. Or perhaps the flyer is itself the second sex, a sexual dimorphic extreme. Unfortunately the Expedition did not collect enough data to confirm any of these theories.

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