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Author Topic: Bestiarum vocabulum  (Read 19266 times)
rovingjack
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« on: June 26, 2010, 08:56:04 am »

It has come to my attention that some members of the communtity have a great curiousity in reguards to the wildlife of the greater steampunk world we live in.

I think therefore it might be of interest to us all to share some of our knowledge of the topic.

I shall begin with a little mentioned but hazardous creature to airships and their crew.

The flying lightening eel: appearing only to attack in the fogs and heaviest rains these creatures are constantly migrating to keep within the edges of thunder storm and fog banks that make up their homes and allow them to cast the unmistakable red lightening bolts that stun and kill prey.

While similar in appearance to eels in the sea, they are in fact thought to be more closely related to the common salamander. Having found a way to fill tubular bladders along it's back with bouant gases, the creature no longer needed legs to traverse the ground which it could now float and swim above with ease.

How and when such a creature discovered the generation of lightening is still a puzzle.

Cloud horses: These tiny little creatures are a wonder to see as they flit about on tiny irridescent wings consuming pollen and small insects with flicks of their thread like tounges.
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 10:19:56 am »

Sure, why not?  We need a proper bestiary.

My experiences relate to the Magnetotethididae Borealis, or Crowned Pigmy Kraken, as I had previously posted in http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,22949.0.html

The creature's taxonomy is given as: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Mollusca, Class: Cephalopoda, Subclass: Coleoidea, Superorder: Decapodiformes, Order: Teuthida, Genus: Krakenida Galvanica, Species:  Magnetoteuthididae Borealis

This species was discovered in the lower layers of the stratosphere, around 30,000 ft of altitude over the Arctic.  It was discovered with assistance from Dr. Stanley Livingstone while I was commandering the United States Airship Orca (formerly the Confederate Airship Alamo, refitted for exploration and recomissioned).

The species is thought to propel and levitate through the use if powerful magnetic pulses emanating from a natural electromagnet coil located below the eyes.  The soft skin is entirely covered with pure copper particles.  The body is covered in a distinctive brass colored cap with no fins, as hydrodynamic and aerodynamic propulsion is not used at all by the creature.  This distinctive cap is the source of the common name "Crowned Pigmy Kraken."

Controversy surrounds the observations and hypotheses regarding the intelligence of these creatures.  During the discovert voyage aboard the Orca, Dr. Livingstone and myself observed a specimen in the act of drawing galvanic current from an electric calculation engine.

Apparently,  The creature has evolved a special proboscis, essentially a modified tentacle, which is able to adapt to galvanic sources.  Much to our surprise, the creature showed parasitic properties as it succesfully drew current and actually took over some of the basic functions of the apparatus.  

The latter observation has lead many scientists to speculate on a possible rudimentary communication mechanism native to this species. 

However,  these observations have not been subjected to academic scrutiny yet, and it must be noted that the source of galvanic feeding sources is yet unknown. 

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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2010, 02:33:40 pm »

Stratoplankton: Like the pelagic variety, Stratoplankton are microscopic plants and animals from a multitude of species, forming the basis of the upper atmospheric food chain. It is believed that bioluminescent species of stratoplankton are responsible for the Noctilucent Cloud phenomena.

It is important to remember to wear ones breathing mask when outside ones ship in areas where stratoplankton are common. Many species create methane for bouyancy; you don't want them in your lungs.

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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 06:55:37 pm »

Stratoplankton: Like the pelagic variety, Stratoplankton are microscopic plants and animals from a multitude of species, forming the basis of the upper atmospheric food chain. It is believed that bioluminescent species of stratoplankton are responsible for the Noctilucent Cloud phenomena.

It is important to remember to wear ones breathing mask when outside ones ship in areas where stratoplankton are common. Many species create methane for bouyancy; you don't want them in your lungs.



Yes, we had to be very carful aboard the Orca when bringing in our nets bearing the Crowned Kraken specimens.  We deviced a special decontamination chamber aboard our vessel, with ventilators pumping out the native atmosphere first, and then pumping in a  nitrogen (inert) / oxygen mixture with special filters to avoid contamination of the gondola cabin.
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dman762000
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2010, 06:47:10 am »

Living in the liftwood tree balls that exist in the middle atmosphere are a wide variety of creatures. Of course there are the baby "new to air" air kraken that nest there until they are large enough to hunt the wider skies. Other creatures that live there are glider coons, flying possums, sugar gliders, flying squirrels, aircats, flying lemurs, flying snakes and frogs. There are also interesting species of slug that seem to have developed the ability to inflate their bodies with a lighter than air gas. They have no ability to control their movements but we do call them "dirigible slugs" because of what they look like when inflated.

The flying squirrels and sugar gliders are quite common as pets so I won't bother to describe them. However I will endeavor to give a basic identification description of the other creatures found in the liftwood tree balls.
 The flying possums are the same species and genus found in Australia.
Flying snakes and frogs have taken residence in the liftwood tree balls as well.

Glider coons- a relative of normal raccoon species, these high altitude bandits have evolved webbing between their forelegs and hind-legs. Their coloration is similar on the face to their terrestrial cousins. The coloring on the rest of the body however is a different story. They have evolved coloration of green and blue to better blend in with their surroundings. They are typically bluish underneath with a mottled greenish and grayish coloring over the top. Most creatures have adapted similarly in coloration to better survive in the liftwood tree balls.

Aircats are relatives to bobcats and other forms of Manx cat. They have developed the webbed body of most atmospheric mammals but have become more dangerous. They are much more predatory than their ground based cousins. Their claws are more hook shaped and larger and their fangs have become almost blade like in their ability to rend flesh. Unlike manx or bobcats, aircats prefer to hunt in packs or prides with a dominate female and dominate male. This makes them quite dangerous to airship crews as a large pride can kill an entire crew in a matter of a few minutes. They will feast on the prey and take some back to their home treeball to feed their young.

Flying Lemurs are not really Lemurs, they are of the order dermoptera. While exactly like the Philippine flying lemur in build and behavior their coloration is quite different. They are nearly black underneath and greenish grey above. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2010, 06:22:43 pm »

Interesting: the adaptation of the extant marsupial pouch into a lifting device would account for an entire range of aerofauna.
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 04:09:09 am »

Interesting: the adaptation of the extant marsupial pouch into a lifting device would account for an entire range of aerofauna

What? You've never heard of the Macropodidae Globus, the Flying Potbelly Kangaroo?

Here, I found this article:
Macropodidae Globus,  Flying Potbelly Kangarooo

Tought to be related to the Red Kangaroo (Macropus Rufus) it stands about 2 metres (6ft) in height, like it's terrestrial counterpart.  The female of the species has evolved a set of specialized "gaseous kidneys" able to extract a mix of gases from the bloodstream, and store it under high pressure until needed.

Mostly helium, thanks to the animal's diet of Giant Tasmanian Truffles, this gas mixture is collected from the digestive tract  and to a lesser extent from the lungs through a large artery and vein set.

The female's pouch or Marsupium, remains shut during non reproductive cycles.  In case of immediate threat from a predator, the female is able to leapfrog to a height roughly equal to it's height and rapidly inflate the pouch .

The powerful Gaseous Kidneys are able to inflate the pouch displacing enough airmass so as to make the animal buoyant.  Once inflated the female is able to let herself be carried by the local winds....  And the article goes on...

« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 06:30:51 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2010, 04:34:38 pm »

This source of ancient images and descriptions may give you all further insight:
Medieval Bestiary
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2010, 08:04:46 pm »

There are some interesting creatures there, like the "ant-lion."

"The offspring of an ant and a lion, or the lion of ants" (!). Ha ha! Mechancally impossible?

The mediaeval observer my have been fooled by another creature.  The closest I know would be the "South African White Pigmy Lion" (Micropanthera Leo).  A diminutive cat a mere 12 inches in length, but actually a member of the Panthera genus (Felidae Family), with orange fur, the full grown adult resembles a kitten, but with with a full blond mane, and tail puff like the common Lion.

They hunt in prides of 50-100 members.  Their hunting method is unique, as they surprise and climb on their prey, charming it to death.  Then they consume the carcass in it's entirety.  Because of this feature of their behaviour, they are also known as "Piranha Lions.". I'll see if I can fetch a picture of a specimen....
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 08:38:12 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2010, 05:16:42 pm »

The current thread on photos surrounding the Thunderbird myth ( http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,25062.0.html ) remind me we need to include some of those beasties in this Bestiary!
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2010, 06:09:13 pm »

                                                      Mountain squidplant

Evolve specificicly for the predation of air critters, this variety of giant carnivorous plant is the second most dangerous ennemy of aeronaut. Its name came to the the striking ressemblance between his leafs,as well than the way he use it to catch his preys, and tentacles.

Harpy: This species of winged primate are one the fiercest predator of the sky. For air pirates hovewer, the threat they represent is seen as a oportunity. Tamed harpys are a commonplace piracy weapon, and they also be object to a aeronautic version of the plank.

Syren: If sea sailors have mermaid, Aeronaut have syren. This cousin of harpys attract their preys throught a hypnotic humming.
                                                                 

                                                               The feral creations of Hephaistos
The greek inventor Hephaistos lived between 1950 and 1810 BC. Its greatest contribution to the world is the invention of clockernethic, who grant him a cult after his death. Hovewer, many of his creations go feral and still roam the world. here they are:

Stymphalian Bird: Mechanical preybirds who hunt primarily large mammals like lion, tiger....or human. They convert the absorbed meats as fuel.

Nemean Lion: Almost invicible, this metallic great predator is the prime ennemy of annompagnied wanderer.

Mechanical Boar: Mostly finding fuelling in a vegetarian regime, this mechanical lifeform is hovewer very hot-blooded and attack anybody who go to near to his taste.


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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2010, 08:47:45 pm »

I've been collecting scraps and sketches and notes of ideas for a prop book for some time. I've been trying to decide on a subject — I've mostly been throwing around the notion of an alchemical/occult grimoire or a compendium of herbal specimens. Those seem almost cliché, however, and I've been trying to decide on a way to make those ideas unique, or else find some other subject altogether. A catalogue of legendary beasts that specifically pertain to steampunk-type adventurers sounds fun indeed.
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2010, 11:24:09 pm »

Thinking of it, it would be nice if Brassgoggles were to have a Bestiary composed of all the contributions by the members of the forum.  The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Steampunk Flora and Fauna.
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2010, 11:49:50 pm »

Thinking of it, it would be nice if Brassgoggles were to have a Bestiary composed of all the contributions by the members of the forum.  The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Steampunk Flora and Fauna.

Would that include subterrestrial specimines? and what about the ecologies of Mars and Venus? it could certainly make an interesting read. I would be happy to help with such a project. I would personally be happy to contibute something on The Illusive Amorphous Aethergel Biologies of the Upper Atmospheric Ecosystems and other subjects.
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« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2010, 06:16:04 am »

Thinking of it, it would be nice if Brassgoggles were to have a Bestiary composed of all the contributions by the members of the forum.  The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Steampunk Flora and Fauna.

Would that include subterrestrial specimines? and what about the ecologies of Mars and Venus? it could certainly make an interesting read. I would be happy to help with such a project. I would personally be happy to contibute something on The Illusive Amorphous Aethergel Biologies of the Upper Atmospheric Ecosystems and other subjects.

Dear Tajhan, most definitely yes.  Any contribution would be most welcome, as my Airship, The USAS Orca, confines me to the Terrestrial Biosphere. I was just thinking about that red fungus specimen from Mars brought back by Herr Döktor, I believe.
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2010, 06:39:16 am »

I've been collecting scraps and sketches and notes of ideas for a prop book for some time. I've been trying to decide on a subject — I've mostly been throwing around the notion of an alchemical/occult grimoire or a compendium of herbal specimens. Those seem almost cliché, however, and I've been trying to decide on a way to make those ideas unique, or else find some other subject altogether. A catalogue of legendary beasts that specifically pertain to steampunk-type adventurers sounds fun indeed.

Oh so you discovered my idea did you? I'm actually a big fan of the Dragonology books and their kin, and was (even before I started this thread) thinking about making a steampunk airships encounters with beasties as they fly and go to land.

No worries however I had no intention of pilfering others ideas here, and I have no problem with others doing the same type of book idea.

I'm a strong adherant to the idea that any two people given th same idea will produce completely differing products (at least in the writing and art feilds), and the success of one over the other is entirely dependant on the likes of the audiance they are made for, and should be.
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2010, 07:21:27 am »

You could look into the Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfield. Very easy read, and half the book is about the Darwinists, who create creatures to fit their own needs.

One example is the Huxley, which is essentially a "Jellyfish full of fish guts", used as a hot air balloon...
http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o54/_animeangel_/leviathan_4_westerfeld.jpg

And the Leviathan, a flying whale airship...
http://keiththompsonart.com/images/full/leviathanapproaches.jpg

But I will also have to give my own findings, if I can find them. *Scrambles to write down some sloppy notes somewhere*

Name: Razor Lizard
Scientific Name: Draco Razori
Appearance: A small, roughly 4-5 inch long lizard, grey in color. The razor lizard features razor sharp claws, and has a series of razor-sharp scales, which it can flare out. The most noticeable feature of this creature is its flying ability. By flaring its scales in a pulsating pattern, it can circulate the air around itself to create a low-pressure zone over itself. This low pressure zone is strong enough that it can actually lift the lizard upwards, literally allowing it to fly.
Diet: Razor lizards have been known to feed on small insects, specifically moths and mosquitos. During times of crisis, such as the bee near-extinction of 1865, Razor Lizards have been known to feed on "sky plankton", and scraps dropped by humans from airships.
DANGER: Care must be taken when flying low to the ground, as the razor sharp scales and claws may slice through hot air balloons and air ballasts. There have been reports of airships which have been brought down by only a few lizards. Be aware that dropping scraps may attract these beasts.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 07:38:17 am by Rogue » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2010, 05:28:31 pm »

I've been collecting scraps and sketches and notes of ideas for a prop book for some time. I've been trying to decide on a subject — I've mostly been throwing around the notion of an alchemical/occult grimoire or a compendium of herbal specimens. Those seem almost cliché, however, and I've been trying to decide on a way to make those ideas unique, or else find some other subject altogether. A catalogue of legendary beasts that specifically pertain to steampunk-type adventurers sounds fun indeed. 

Oh so you discovered my idea did you? I'm actually a big fan of the Dragonology books and their kin, and was (even before I started this thread) thinking about making a steampunk airships encounters with beasties as they fly and go to land.

No worries however I had no intention of pilfering others ideas here, and I have no problem with others doing the same type of book idea.

I'm a strong adherant to the idea that any two people given th same idea will produce completely differing products (at least in the writing and art feilds), and the success of one over the other is entirely dependant on the likes of the audiance they are made for, and should be.

What I was suggesting, was a communal effort, with contributions from as many members as possible, perhaps started online first, as it will take time to form into a volume (a sticky thread?).  No pilfering necessary, since each member attaches his/her persona or alter-ego's name to each entry, i.e.  my Micropanthera Leo will always be mine!  (and mind lads, that I have a stuffed specimen in my posession to prove the point!)
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2010, 03:19:41 am »

What I was suggesting, was a communal effort, with contributions from as many members as possible, perhaps started online first, as it will take time to form into a volume (a sticky thread?).  No pilfering necessary, since each member attaches his/her persona or alter-ego's name to each entry, i.e.  my Micropanthera Leo will always be mine!  (and mind lads, that I have a stuffed specimen in my posession to prove the point!)


This sounds like a perfect addition to the Brass Goggles Wiki, which is in desperate need of some lovin' at the moment...
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2010, 09:30:57 am »

I should include the Air Jellies, reports of which have been coming back from our aeroists over the last few months.  It appears this creature is growing in population.  Certainly the frequency of encounters has increased dramatically.  Professor Hartley from the Royal Society believes the creature may go through a bloom cycle like it's sea-based cousins, perhaps tied to stratoplankton population levels.  While Air Jellies don't feed directly on the stratoplankton, they feed on the creatures that do.

The Air Jelly, both the Greater and Lesser varieties (volaticus caravela magnus and volaticus caravela brevis respectively), are airborne medusiods, related the waterborne siphonphore order.  They consist of a large, transluscent hydrogen-filled bladder, a central digestive system, and a collection of nearly-invisible stinging tentacles.  v. caravela magnus can have lift bladders that reach 3 fathoms in diameter, and the tentacles can extend as much as 40 fathoms below the bladder.  v. caravela brevis rarely exceed a foot in diameter for the bladder and 2 fathoms length for the tentacles.

The sting from these tentacles can be exceptionally painful, and the lesser jelly's no less so than that of it's larger cousin, though the larger ones have more tentacles and consequently pose a greater danger.  Two fatalaties have been reported to date among our aeroists, both apparently suffering heart failure as a consequence of the stings.  Their shipmates were badly shaken, saying the fellows died in extreme agony.  At least two dozen other aeroists have suffered painful, debilitating stings that required extended convalescence in sick bay.   There is no truth to the rumor that Air Jelly stings can ignite hydrogen lift gas.  Owing to the overall transparency of the creature and the great length of the tentacles in the Greater Jelly, and the growing frequency of encounters, the Air Admiralty considers these a grave threat to crewmen on external mission.  The most reliable defence so far has been to avoid areas with high concentrations of stratoplankton.

Professor Hartley has advanced the notion that Air Jellies may not actually be a single organism, but a colony of symbiotic creatures living together.  It is a strange notion, but no stranger than reports that Air Kraken, which appear to be immune to the venom, have been known to tear tentacles from Air Jellies and use them as weapons in their various aerial duels. 

As an aide,  the Air Admiraly is currently refitting three older airships for the Spanish Crown and training their Spanish crews.  We find the Iberians to be competent aeroists, and therefore feel that the vulgar appelation "Spanish Zeppelins" should not be used when referring to Air Jellies.
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2010, 04:13:15 am »

The most noticeable feature of this creature is its flying ability. By flaring its scales in a pulsating pattern, it can circulate the air around itself to create a low-pressure zone over itself. This low pressure zone is strong enough that it can actually lift the lizard upwards, literally allowing it to fly.

Curious, Rogue, smart observation you made; I was thinking this sounds a little like a concept based on micro mechanical devices (MEMS).  I'm an master's in aerospace engineering, and the vogue about ten years ago in graduate school was the effect of silicon-based miniature mechanical actuators, to kill turbulence or achieve other effects.

There is something called a "synthetic-jet" which effectively does the opposite of what you said, create a flow and high pressure through pulses, I can see it creating a region of high pressure at the belly of the animal, although how effective it is to create lift is questionable.  Maybe jut to aid the airflow around the body of the animal.  It's called a "synthetic jet," because it's a zero mass-flow jet.  All the mass "output" of the jet is recycled to form the stream again (think of a mushroom, where the stem of the mushroom is the jet moving away from a wall, and the head of the mushroom is the outflow of the jet returning toward the wall to be recycled), but it can have a non-zero net pressure...In this case all the "recycled air comes from around most of the body of the creature (low pressure), and the synthetic jet is pointing down and back in a small region at the belly (high pressure)...Would you consider aerospace engineering as a career?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 03:39:44 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2010, 01:02:41 am »

Just a comment; in a separate thread (http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,25182.msg569442.html#msg569442), entirely devoted to the subject of lighter-than-air flora, Dr. Fidelius of our own Brassgoggles, has introduced a new botanical species, capable of producing hydrogen through a natural process of electrolysis, the Electrovitacea charlièreia, of which I have not heard of.  I just thought the species should be included in this compendium.

On a separate note, I'd like to ask our members, if someone has ever heard of the Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar, or the carnivorous trees of Mindanao Islands in the Philippines...  Writers like J. W. Buel have given accounts of carnivorous plants like the Ya-Te-Veo ("Now-I-See-You") in his 1887 Book Land and Sea.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-eating_tree
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« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2010, 02:18:16 am »

As a note, that's what the Darwinist creatures do in Scott Westerfield's book (Yes, another reference)...

"Hydrogen Breathers" produce hydrogen through different means, such as hydrogen-producing bacteria, and use it to make themselves lighter than air to float.
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« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2010, 02:56:51 am »

As a note, that's what the Darwinist creatures do in Scott Westerfield's book (Yes, another reference)...

"Hydrogen Breathers" produce hydrogen through different means, such as hydrogen-producing bacteria, and use it to make themselves lighter than air to float.

Not surprised, but my aerial fauna owe much more to Philip Jose Farmer's The Wind Whales of Ishmael than anything written in the psat few years.  My to-be-read pile is in such a state that I shal  probably not have a chance to pick up Leviathan until at least 2017.

While I appreciate your enthusiasm for the book, there are only so many ideas out there for biolgically plausible lighter-than-air flight, and almost all have been used already.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 11:59:47 pm by Dr Fidelius » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2010, 03:26:10 am »

Are you all forgetting about the one worst beast to roam these skies?
You intellectuals might classify these creatures as Draconus maleficus, but we here on earth call them by one simple name. Dragons. There's many breeds, from the sleek Wyvern to the more widely known Horned Dragon. They're very dangerous- I've only had the pleasure of seeing one of these creatures, a Black Wyvern. They lead long lives, reaching maturity at age 30, usually living for a good 150 years. The wingspan measures from 5 meters to a mighty 20 meters. Length from nose tip to tail can be up to 30 meters... in some of the smaller species.
Oh, right- They breathe fire. It's a good idea to turn tail if you see one of these beasties, as I've had many friends lose their hydrogen-filled dirigibles... and their lives ... to the fiery breath. They're very rare, fortunately, due to the mass dragon-slayings in recent years.
[OOC] Okay, I know it's not as ground-breaking or inventive as all of the other creatures you all have described... But it's still something to use in RP. And it's hella fun to simulate a fight between a dirigible and a man-eating, fire-breathing, wood-splintering flying reptile with bulletproof skin.
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