The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Desert Duck-bills

Grover (Ansersaurus fossura)

Size: The grover is the largest animal to call Hypnale’s Sunspot Desert home. They are ten meter long herbivores, massing up to seven tonnes. In Earth-terms, they largely resemble extinct hadrosaurs in shape.

Head: The general layout of the grover’s head is streamline enough to allow them to burrow through the sand with minimal resistance. Their eyes and noses have flaps that close tightly while the creature is pushing through the sand. The nostrils are at the tip of the snout, which will stick out of the ground while they sleep out of the sun. They have powerful jaws that can grind any plant matter, including needles and thorns. Teeth are not replaced, but rather grow constantly. The act of chewing the tough, and often sandy food wears them down. Their lower jaw juts down into a plough-shape. It is not used for digging, but is rather a pouch in which the female stores the eggs.

Body: Their bodies are stout and rotund, with a large hump sticking out of their backs.

Limbs: Grovers have long, slender limbs, excellent for moving over great distances. Their rear legs are strong enough to allow the grover to rear up on their hind legs, and even to allow them to run for short distances. They have stubby feet that are tipped with hoof-like claws on their hind feet, and large bear-like claws. They use these to tear into the ground

Their hides are tan with brown stripes. They are covered in rough, sand-like scales, thick enough to protect them from the harshest duststorms and to allow them to blend into the ground when they burrow.

Internal Structure: Their skeleton has a series of spines protruding from the backbone These support a fatty hump that can store twenty days worth of water.

Diet: Eating whatever plants they can find. They burrow into the sandy ground to escape the sun, and to root for roots and tubers.

Lifecycle: Both parents carry the share, and as soon as the eggs hatch, they are released to join the small herds of grovers. The hatchlings stick to the middle of the herd, sheltered from the worst of the duststorms and from any predators. If a grover can survive their youth, then are almost certain to live over fifty years, and even as far as eighty. Genetic material is exchanged between herds during the grover’s youth, when the hatchlings wander to far from their home herds and are adopted by passing herds.

Reproduction: As stated before, after the female lays the eggs, she scopes them up with her mouth and they drop into the characteristic pouch on their chins. Grovers mate for life, only taking on a new mate if their previous one dies. Their lifespan is long enough that old females will cease fertility around the age of sixty.

Sociability: Grovers travel in herds of up to fifty, mostly to protect the young. Grovers have a strong parenting instinct, where unrelated adults will care for another’s young. So strong is it, that should one herd’s young be separated and come into contact with a rival herd, that herd will take in the young.

Habitat: They do not range completely over the desert, but rather along the subterranean rivers that exist there, and bubble up into springs. They will move between these oases, or follow the underground rivers, never straying far from reliable food sources.

Communication: Grovers communicate with loud honks.

Enemies: Adult grovers have no natural enemies, but adults will compete over grazing lands. The young will be picked off by any predators capable of handling them.

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