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Dolabranychus by draconicaeaeon Dolabranychus by draconicaeaeon
Been futzing with this for a while, so I figured I'd just post it and be done with it.

This was done for :iconworld-craft:'s Mist Planet Challenge.

The Dolabranychus 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: (more info)

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.
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:iconkanima9890:
Kanima9890 Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2014
How does this animal deal with radiation? I mean, with a planet that has half the gravity, it's magnetosphere is very weak, so it will likely be soaked with radiation, especially when factored that far. Also, be such a lightweight planet, that means that it will be hard to hold gases, unless they are very heavy.
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:iconcrossdevice:
CrossDevice Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2014
Wow, very interesting. 
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:iconthegranadian:
TheGranadian Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Outstanding concept! I love the fact that alien life can be imagined in so many different ways.
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:iconlosthellangel:
LostHellAngel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Nice
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:iconsurthur:
surthur Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
very cool shape :D
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
Thanks!
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:icon8h29b:
8H29B Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2011
beautiful concept!
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011
Thanks!
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:iconayumi-nemera:
Ayumi-Nemera Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i'm really impressed with this. you took the time to think of everything! (which is like me when i become obsessed with an idea) And i really love it. Even though i tend to feel that insect-like alien organisms are over-used, you still found a way to make this one individualistic and interesting! good job!
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011
Wow, thanks! And yeah, I really like putting some thought into creature design, it's a good problem-solving exercise. Or something.

And yeah, I agree that the insect = alien thing tends to be a bit of a cheap pull, but I'm glad that you thought it turned out OK!
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:iconayumi-nemera:
Ayumi-Nemera Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
lol yeah. I have an alien design that I've taken the time to think of everything about, I just haven't drawn it recently enough to believe it would be acceptable on DA. When i do draw it again, I'm hoping it'll meet future zoology's standards. :/

And you're welcome~!
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Student General Artist
Wow, very interesting! I like its posture!
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2011
Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

...your icon is really awesome, by the way.
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2011  Student General Artist
Haha, thanks XD
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:iconswordsaint001:
SwordSaint001 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
this is a very cool idea how big are they? I ask because having an exoskeleton in big animals doesn't work on normal gravity worlds, unless it has lower gravity or it's skeleton is composed of something other than chitin.... sorry not knocking your creature at all!!! I just blather...
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
No, you're asking good questions! I hadn't even considered of how big they would be.

I was imagining them to be somewhere in the ballpark of 2 to 3 meters tall (so...about 10 feet max) because I figured the photons that plant life compete for would gradually increase with height through the mist, resulting in taller plants that would only permit taller creatures to browse on them.

I've always thought that the main limiting factor in invertebrate size was oxygen content in the atmosphere - since many terrestrial invertebrates rely on modified gills, book lungs, or spiracles that directly oxygenate the bloodstream - in short, methods less efficient than our vertebrate lungs. That's why during the carboniferous period, when the oxygen levels were the highest our planet has seen, there were eagle-sized dragonflies and 5-foot-long millipedes. The Dolabranychus were intended to have spiracles on the neck, but ones that fed into larger vertebrate-style lungs. The mist planet atmosphere might also make it easier to support a large invertebrate with modified gills, but I'll go with what I know for right now.

I've also heard that some invertebrates - like spiders - utilize a hydraulic system to power their limbs instead of a muscular system. That's why jumping spiders can jump just as effectively as a grasshopper without having giant distended legs. This would become increasingly difficult to power as the creature became more massive, so the Dolabranychus would run on a muscular-based locomotion system only.

I've never actually considered that exoskeleton strength may have been a limiting factor as well, but it's a good point with something as large as what I'm proposing. I guess a lower-gravity world would also kind of explain the extended suspension of the mist - to a point - so I guess I'll go with that. :)
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:iconswordsaint001:
SwordSaint001 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011
Yeah with the exoskeleton the bigger you get the thicker the chitin must be to support the weight of the animal, case in point if you were to have a bug the size of an elephant the thickness of the chitin would be so intense that there would be only room the size of a basketball for all the origins and muscle tissue!But yes your completely right on the oxygen abortion issues being a primary prob for invertebrates. That's why on a world of My making there are rather large "insects" that utilize primitive lungs to breath and attain such sizes, the largest being 10lbs and land locked so to speak.. the largest fliers have a wing span of up to 3'though this is the biggest they get despite there being 20%more oxygen in the atmosphere. That is due competition with already established vertebrate fliers.

Either way i love what you have here, I really need to get an entry into one o' these one day soon if I ever get time!

say come by my page and take a look tell me what you think of some of my poor attemps at drawing and creating new life. :-) if you want that is. :-)
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:iconmechatherium:
Mechatherium Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2011  Student Digital Artist
What about a "minimal" exoskeleton? The plates on the exoskeleton could be thick and rigid only where they have to bear weight or muscular force, and thin and flexible elsewhere.

I got the idea looking at large theropod skulls, with their weight-saving "holes" (fenestra).
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:iconswordsaint001:
SwordSaint001 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011
That is a very god idea, something like where the chitin is forming almost an endoskeleton at the point of stress, i.e. bearing weight or holding organs while the other portions are more "skin" like, also possibly having joint like portions in the chitin to allow expantion if necessary.Interesting I like your thoughts, very cool!
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011
Heh, yeah that's a good point.

Though after doing some reading, chitin is sometimes mixed with different minerals for strength/flexability. Maybe increasing the portion of calcium phosphate included in the chitin would strengthen it?
There's also the difference that Arthropod exoskeletons are not vascular, unlike vertebrate bones. That's why we can heal our bones, but an arthropod has to wait until next moult to heal. Perhaps making a vascular exoskeleton that can adjust and heal small internal fractures would make it lighter?

Anyway, I guess I'll try to come by your gallery sometime and offer some opinions on your designs. The insects on that planet sound pretty neat! I've got work (amoungst other things) though, so I might be a little late on the uptake.
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:iconswordsaint001:
SwordSaint001 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2011
your right adding cal/phos might help it's what crabs have and land crabs are the largest terrestrial invertebrates.

I'm going to be very honest I never even thought of a "living" exoskeleton! sweet idea! that could indeed fix several considerations. I really like that.

well I look forward to your visit to my page and hope that my poor attempts at drawing will be of interest to you. One of these days I'll get in on a world building and see if I really have what it takes to do so. :-)
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:iconkatwylder:
KatWylder Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011   Digital Artist
This is a really great creature design. For all its strangeness, it looks very natural as you've drawn it.
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
Thanks! I'm glad it comes off that way!
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:iconhunter9895:
hunter9895 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011   Artist
very awesome amazing
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:icondraconicaeaeon:
draconicaeaeon Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011
Thank you!
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:iconhunter9895:
hunter9895 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011   Artist
your so very welcome
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