PULSAR: Lost Colony

PULSAR: Lost Colony

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Physiologus Interstellaris
By obvious
A field researcher's diary about the different lifeforms of the Pulsar: The Lost Colony galaxy
 
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Introduction
Greetings, fellow scientist! On our travels in yet mostly uncharted territory we encounter strange specimens and interesting new ecosystems. In the following book I write down the notes I take during our field missions. Naturally this all is done in my free time, since a zoological or botanical research expedition is yet to be funded.
Enjoy the diversity of life!
Insectoid lifeforms
The largest group of all alien life forms is, unsurprisingly, the insectiods. On our home planet, two thirds of all animals were Insects. Additionally, they were the most species-rich family. So we could expect to see this success story told on other worlds as well! Or is this the long sought proof for the panspermia theory? Extensive genetical testing might, one day, answer this question.
Formicidoids (ant-like creatures)
Formicidoids (ant-like creatures)
The ant-like creatures I met on several planets are indeed very ant-like. Just like their terrerstrial look alikes, they have 6 legs and a body made of 3 segments (head, thorax, abdomen). They also have mandibles on their mouth. Other than terrenan ants, they have 2 sets of mandibles (as the picture of a dead specimen shows) and they have spikes on the back of their head.

They are apparently eusocial and live in hives, where the smaller Drones take care of the daily work, while the much larger Ravagers seem to be a soldier class.
Both have no facette eyes, but three eyes on both sides of the head.
Interestingly the eyes are also affected by the dimorphism of the different "castes". Aside of being bigger, more colorful (without doubt a case of aposematism, warning coloration) and posessing more spikes on the abdomen and on the front of the head, the Ravager caste has a different eye constellation. The three triangluar set eyes of the Drones are more linear on the Ravager head, the four lower eyes being less developed, maybe even rudimentary, while the two upper eyes are enlarged and strongly developed.
This leads to the hypothesis that the Ravager, being the soldier-caste of the ant-likes, expect enemies from above. Time will hopefully tell us more about those elusive predators.
Another fact is worth noticing: The ant-likes live in symbiosis with glowing fungi. Similar to terrestric leaf-cutter ants, the ant-like breed a sort of fungus in their hives, that seems to be their main source of nutrition. But that does not render the fungivore ant-likes harmless! It was observed that ant-likes carried off complete scientific research teams to nurture their hive's fungus with the decaying corpses.
Vespidoids (wasp-like creatures)
The wasp-likes seem to be close relatives of the ant-likes, despite not sharing the same planets. This, too, is not very surprising, if we ignore the fact that they live lightyears apart. Terrestric ants and wasps are also closely related, some ant types even developing stringers during the winged phase of their queens. The morphology of ant-likes Drones and wasp-likes is very similar: They have an insectoid body, 6 legs, spikes on legs and the back side of the head. Both exhibit a similar warning coloration, the coloration of the wasp-likes being more colorful. In the darkness of the caves the ant-likes could not utilize a more colourful warning coloration, while the wasp-likes in the bright light of the desert and against the pale sand profit hugely from their very dark coloration. The patterns on the head are, as mentioned before, very striking and similar to the ant-likes. Like the patterns of terrestric zebras and giraffes, they might enable the individuals to recognize each other. The well developed eyes suggest that the ant-likes and wasp-likes do not rely on olfactoric communication via pheromones as much as their cousins on planet earth. They only possess two wings, which also differs from their terrestric equivalents that fly with two sets of membrane wings.
Polyphormism, physically different castes, could not yet be observed. The wasps do seem to live in groups, but it could nto be determined how their colony functions.
Like the ant-likes, the wasp-likes build typical egg-shaped hives, with the entrance being on the narrow end. This too hints to a close and, biologically spoken, recent relationship between the two groups.
Arachnoids / "Crawlers" (spider-like creatures)
The crawlers are a bit tricky. Like our spiders their body consists of two segments (prosoma and opisthosoma) and not of three segments (caput, thorax, abdomen) like the body of insects. Also their opisthosoma is enlarged, as if used for silk production. The shape is slightly bend, so that silk glands on the caudal end could position silk very precisely. Crawler silk could not yet be observed.
Yet the Crawlers only have 6 legs, like terrestric insects. Since insects also can produce silk, this does not make the silk hypothesis invalid. But it does indeed cause great confusion as to the ancestry and taxonimical position of this species. The Crawlers possess 10 well developed eyes on the front of their head, which marks them as active hunters rather than net spinning ambush predators. Their large mandibles and their behavior towards our crew supports this hypothesis. They might use their silk for stabilizing burrows, since the local fauna did not possess trees that would be large enough to support silken tube tents in the tree tops for creatures of that size.
The Crawlers are black with a distinctive electric-blue coloration. This, again, is most likely warning coloration and/or used as a signal for fitness during courtship. The color deviation on the front legs supports the latter hypothesis. The bright blue front legs could be used like semaphores during mating dances or intimidation rituals with rivals. Such behavior is for example known from terrestric fiddler crabs.
Rattoids (rat-like creatures)
Like the other creatures the rat-likes do not seem to be limited to one planet. A current hypothesis is, that young rat-likes hide on space crafts and are able to infest planets on which those space crafts land. Knowing the human tendency to mess with ecosystems, it is as well possible that they were imported as pets or even food sources. Once they are fully grown they tend to be quite aggressive and territorial. They are similar to terreistric rats, sharing their main physiological features: 4 legs, 5 toes per foot, a long, hairless tail and 2 eyes. They have longer front teeth for gnawing and relatively large ears. Their noses though exhibits a likeness to that of the star-nosed mole. It has 8 fleshy appendages that most likely help the rat-likes to haptically maneuveur in complete darkness. Additionally they seem to have 4 nasal openings. This might seem alien, but the 4 nose openings are actually also part of our own terrestric heritage. Our fish ancestors had noses that were not used for breathing, only for smelling. Thus they possessed, being bilateral life forms, one opening on each side to let in water and one to let the water stream out again. This is another hint supporting the theory that terrestric life shares multicellular ancestors with the alien life forms of this galaxy.
The four openings enable the rat-like to navigate via smells in a 3 dimensional field. Our two nasal openings enable us to detect the direction of a smell on a more or less flat surface. The four openings of the rat-like would enable them to also determine whether a smell they encounter while digging comes from above or below. Though their rather tiny feet suggest that they don't dig much on their own and rather use their extraordinary sense of smell to survive in already existing, extensive cave systems. They seem to live in small families.
The picture in this section shows a sick rat, the natural conidion of their skin and eyes can not yet be assumed.
Sand sharks
Non-Scientists tend to suspect the sand sharks to be gigantic worms, living in sand dunes. This misconception is based on the still immense popularity of ancient movies and books.
In fact, the sand sharks are rather compact, consisting mainly of a huge skull with a big mouth full of pointy, sharp teeth.
This dead specimen, hunted for the famous sand shark steaks, is not yet fully grown. A full grown sand shark can be large enough to build a house from its skull. Speaking of that, sand sharks do possess skulls. Also ribs and vertebrae that protect their spinal cord.
Surprisingly they lack limbs as we know them. The four mandible like structures close to their jaw joints seem to fulfill this purpose and enable them to move in the sand and even jump. Additionally they are used while catching prey. Possibly they evolved from limbs in the classical sense.
Sand sharks lay eggs which they hide in protected places on the surface of the desert. They seem to possess a cloaka which is used for reproduction purposes as well as for defecation.
Sand sharks hunt usually by staying in place and waiting for their prey to come close. Under the sand - using their apikal nostrils for breathing - they can save a lot of energy, don't overheat and can keep on going without food for an astonishing length of time.
As with all other energy frugal species their life cycle is not very fast. Also they lay one egg at a time and thus do not reproduce very effectively. The recent shift of gourmet interests from steamed ants to the prized sand shark steaks poses a serious problem to this species. The increase of demand for sand shark eggs and the subsequent nest predation by human mercenaries is another nail in this species coffin.
Mucoids (Slimes)
So far three different types os slime could be observed. Their color matches their habitat so that we can assume they are not without natural enemies. There is slime that prefers very hot planets, one that lives in toxic locations and one that prefers frozen planets. Slimes resemble earth's slugs in shape, movement and their ability to create mucus, yet they are much larger.
They seem to hold their shape very well, so that further data from dissections is necessary in order to determine their anatomy. They have been dubbed "slimes" based on the assumption that they are amorphic biomatter without specified types of tissue that could be separated, merged and formed completely without consequences for the organism. Much like the plasmodium stage (for sexual reproduction) of earth's slime molds, that also can be surprisingly mobile and colorful. It is not known if the slimes also posess different stages in their life cycle, but they do definitely live in groups and do not attack each other, which would be a hint for sexual reproduction and possibly even social behavior. Then again, they might just flock around the places that offer the most resources and not trigger each others chemoreceptors, thus avoiding cannibalism.
"Tornadoes"
Recently a new phenomenon can be observed on several planets: Sentient "tornadoes", adapted to their icy, sandy or fiery habitat. In general they are friendly and curious, following crew members and encircling them. For unknown reasons this is not always the case. In some cases they harmed and reportedly even killed specific humans, while being friendly or at least neutral towards the rest of the crew. What those tornadoes are is not yet clear. They are not solid and can be passed through without problem. It could be tiny creatures that flock together, coordinate their movements and form a funnel in order to hunt, to mate, to protect each other against predators or to perform mimesis in order to confuse potential enemies. Whether this is a natural phenomenon or artifically created nanobots is uncertain at this point.
Xenoraptor
Another rather newly discovered life form are the Xenoraptors, named after their similarity to earth's Deinonychus dinosaurs which were wrongly used as "Velociraptors" - or for short "Raptors"- in several popular classical movies from the first century of film making. Though they are missing feathers like their earthly counterpart, they have colorful spikes on their heads. Those might be used for courtship or for overawing other individuals, displaying the individuals health and strength.
Different from actual dinosaurs the Xenoraptors have six limbs, much like insects. The caudal pair of limbs has the form of strong sprinting legs with claws, again very much like "Raptors". The middle pair of limbs is usually retracted, serving as clawed "arms" to seize and slash prey and enemies. The most cranial pair of limbs is also arm-like retracted and has no fingers. They might be vestigial or used for purposes that are not apparent on the first glance (e.g. sensory functions).
Xenoraptors have 4 eyes in total, again separating them from their namesakes. Weirdly the "extra" eyes are placed low on the side of their head, next to a bunch of shorter red spikes, offering no advantage regarding range of view. Their purpose is so far a mystery to science.
Xenoraptors live and hunt in groups. If a Xenoraptor realizes that the intended prey is too strong, it will run away and try to group up with others. This behavior shows advanced cognitive capabilities that surpass most of the other observed species.
They lay eggs and build nests. The rocks for those nests are collected by the raptors and meticulously placed. Since their habitats seem to offer not many rocks, the building of a nest could be a form of courtship like with bowerbirds or penguins.
Again dissection should offer us more insights and maybe even explain the absence of nostrils and whether or not their sharp, pointy teeth are made from dentin and enamel or rather from chitin.
Na'vu/Fataoids (fairy-like creatures)
The Na'vu are blue, alien creatures. They are shaped like spiky spheres and seem to consist of ice, with a yellow glowing, spike-rimmed maw or sensory organ. The nature of it is not yet clear. They have no visible extremities or other discernable organs aside of a pair of translucent wings that they use for movement.
The Na'vu are the most alien life form yet observed in the galaxy, since they deviate so much from the physical patterns of earth's life forms.
The Na'vu that were encountered dwelled as a group in the trachea-like interior of something that seemed like a gigantic Na'vu. They might be swarm creatures, the big Na'vu being their queen or a transport Na'vu, capable of navigating in space. Inside it the temperature is cold and there is no oxygen. This phenomenon can not be explained by the claim, that the Na'vu hive is simply a structure they build from ice. It contains it's own climate! Most likely similar to the original Na'vu planet.
The Na'vu seem hostile by default, so my scientific advice is "Watch out!". Since they were only encountered in the mega Na'vu, their hostility might also be territorial, defending the larger organism -that seems to serve as their hive- from intruders. Possibly there are even smaller Na'vu that live inside the presumedly medium sized ones? This social lifestyle may imply higher cognitive capabilities and even a complex system of communication. So far, no form of communication could be observed. Thus the appeal to my fellow scientists: "Listen!", and together we may solve the riddle.
Further information about the Na'vu is not yet available, the concomitant picture shows the brave scientist that gave their life to supply us with the little data we have.

New data shows a brain-like structure deep in the icy Na'vu hive. It floats and has icycles growing on it. It likes biscuits, apparently, and has the ability to perform basic communication with humans. Also there seems to be a connection to HG-77328, a heat emmiting mineral that can be found close to the "brain". Maybe, just like a normal fridge does, the big Na'vu lifeform emmits heat that it removes from its inside. Those crystals could be a way to store this heat energy and have it removed by the working Na'vu. Of course the substance could also be collected/produced by the Na'vu to regulate the temperature for their hive mind that might be in need of higher temperatures in order to perform more demanding cognitive tasks. Again, more data is needed.

Ancient imgage data from the early days of spaceflight seem to deliver evidence for the species' spacefaring capabilities. The humans back then seemed to have had contact with the Na'vu and depicted this encounter as accurately as their limited technology allowed them to.
Gelatinoids
An entirely different type of creature are the gelatinoids. The are a rare find, almost exclusively populating a remote planet with a flora mainly consisting of funghi.
Their appearance is cylindric and transparent, with a hint of green. In the upper region of their body a brainlike neural structure can be seen that branches out towards the body surface.
The size of their "brain" in proportion to their body is remarkable. Since they react very hostile when approached and quickly decompose after being killed in self-defense, their brain-to-body mass ratio can only be roughly estimated based on calculation of volumes. This ratio seems to be about 1:18, assuming that neural tissue and somatic tissue have a similar weight, which is very remarkable when compared to the - already considered large - brain of humans (1:40). Since the gelatinoids' size is similar to humans, the brain-to-body mass ratios can be safely compared without having to worry about the distorting effects of size-differences. This hints to a potential for advanced cognitive operations, possibly even telepathic communication. That would explain how they are able to socially live in groups and how they spot their prey, considering the total lack of visible sensory organs such as eyes, noses or ears. Also they do not seem capable of color changes for means of interspecies communication. They seem to have a tactile sense and also a sense of temperature. Communication via pheromones cannot be discounted, due to the lack of data, but is very unlikely since pheromones are not very fit for complex and adaptable signals.
New research hints to their origin being from another dimension. This would explain why they are so very different from the usual "blue prints" for life that evolved based on the physical attributes of our universe. The observed specimen [image pending] from dimensional rifts seem to only deviate from the local introduced species in color, being of a distinct yellow tint.
There is word of a very large specimen of this kind, residing in the Burrow. It is called "the seer" and venerated by the inhabitants there. It probably could shed light on the origin and abilities of the gelatinoids.
Sadly, it did not respond to interview requests so far.
V'uurog
The biggest known life form of the galaxy is the V'uurog. Not much is known about it aside of the fact that of all the life forms that survive in extreme conditions it is by far the most resilient. Other than the earthly tardigrades it cannot only survive in space, but it actually lives and thrives there.
V'uurogs set up their den in hollowed out asteroids. They live solitary.
The visible part of the body seems small and consists mainly of a very large single eyeball. The eyeball is glowing orange and has a small, circular pupil. Around the eye sprout six long, thin, tentacle like extremities. They possess no suction cups as can be found on earthly cephalopods. Instead the tips of the tentacles glow light blue. The tentacles can have different sizes, so one can assume that like the earthly starfish the v'uurog regrows severed limbs. Another possible explanation would be to look for different purposes of the appendages. The smaller one could be used for mating or brood care. Quite different from the sandshark, the v'uurog seems to be larger than observers expect. There is reason to believe that the visible part of the v'uurog is just it's crown and that similar to earthly crinoids (sea-lilies and feather-stars) there is a stalk or root like structure in a cave in the asteroid. That way the v'uurog anchors itself to its habitat. This would also explain the mystery of its diet.
While it reacts hostile to trespassers in its den, the v'uurog does not eat the ships or crew. Indeed such encounters would be too new and too rare to make sense as a possible food source, evolution-wise. Yet the glowing indicates a very active metabolism and the survival in space requires lots of energy. So where does that energy come from? The answer is simple and can, again, be found in similar shapes on planet earth. At the most uninhabitable places, far away from air, light and everything else that facilitates life, lifeforms thrive from toxic fumes of deep-sea volcanoes. This is called chemosysthesis. All evidence points to the v'uurog processing the asteroid it lives in, using the chemical components for a yet unknown way to generate energy for itself. The composition of asteroids likely does matter a lot, since v'uurog dens are always found in asteroids that seem to be made of a specific mineral. As soon as asteroid got too small to sustain the v'uurog, it will move to find a new home. A bit like a hermit crab. How it navigates in spaces has not yet been recorded. But the regular occurence of hollowed-out or pierced asteroids (for example the one the Estate anchors in) supports this hypothesis. It is possible that the crystals lining the inside of some of those asteroids are waste-products of v'uurog metabolism, v'uurog poo, in other words.
More research is necessary, espacielly to maybe copy the apparently extremely efficient way of chemically generating energy from minerals.
Sylvassi
-Missing Data-
Nitro Shrimp
-Coming Soon-
The Infected
- Research pending -Coming Soon -
To be continued...
... and spell-checked once the author gets shore leave again. It has to be noted that collecting scientific samples and documenting specimen should not lead to officers neglecting their duty. Especially when said duty is to notify crew members about the locations of Sandworms.

Signing off for now,
Science Officer Chell
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16 Comments
obvious  [author] Feb 21 @ 9:50am 
Thank you all!
hoffmannalan34 Feb 20 @ 12:33am 
Very helpful and creative overview, a must for those that like a handle on what awaits them.
Connor [Meme Bot] Jan 27 @ 8:29am 
This is a great guide im glad to see the community of this great game has people like you
[27thFRC]Ced Jul 3, 2018 @ 3:40pm 
Nice, well done!
obvious  [author] Jul 2, 2018 @ 10:42am 
Thanks :)
Indeed I plan to update the guide. Hopefully I find some time to gather new data soon.
Danbomo Jun 25, 2018 @ 8:20pm 
This is genius, well thought through. Like Spy Guy said, adding information on Slyvassi will make it even more immersive. Also adding what we currently know about the Infected. Great read
spy Apr 21, 2018 @ 1:14pm 
Do you intend to add anything on the Sylvassi
BlindMan Nov 25, 2017 @ 12:59pm 
Love the work and the guide. I hope it expands more in the universe :bird:
solarseven Oct 27, 2017 @ 9:17am 
Well written!
[Λ]Farsight Oct 18, 2017 @ 9:41am 
Amazing