Been futzing with this for a while, so I figured I'd just post it and be done with it.
This was done for
's Mist Planet Challenge
is a herd animal that uses its long, flexible neck to browse lower tree branches and shrubs. It senses the world around it via vibrations picked up by the feathery appendages on its legs. When moving, the creatures perform a signature "double tap" step, so as to prevent alarming its neighbors. When walking, these creatures move slowly, but when provoked the giant pickaxe-like claws that give it its name are wielded with frightening speed. These can puncture the exoskeleton of most predators, and make the Dolabranychus
a less than optimal meal. The claws are also utilized to hook and pull foliage within reach of the mouth, which is lined with peg-like teeth arranged like typewriter keys. Dolabranychus
has only an exoskeleton, so the teeth are grated together by warping the cartilage that holds them in place. The neck is thick and muscular, and can extend or contract slightly.Edit:
These creatures are 2 to 3 meters tall. While they weigh on earth around 600 to 1000 pounds, the low gravity of the smaller mist planet has them clocking in at about half that weight.
These creatures have evolved from swimming ancestors, and have since then repurposed feathered swimmerettes as sensory organs, and buoyancy chambers as lungs. Several limbs have been lost to time, and the ones that remain are homologous to the feeding and mating appendages of their ancestors. They retain vestigial gills housed under the lateral facial plates, but their primary oxygen source comes from air pumped through the spiracles into lungs housed under the central carapace. Dolabranychus
move their limbs via muscles, not hydraulic systems. The muscles are attached to ridges on the inside of the exoskeleton.
Reproduction is executed with gonads housed in the anterior end of the main carapace. The "female" produces packets of ovum, which the "male" places inside his carapacial cavity and fertilizes. The young incubate, develop from their larval stages, and then are birthed from inside the male.