The Draconemarians are the primary flying creatures of the Neoanimalian era, and dominate the skies in a wide variety of forms and wingspans, ranging from 10 centimetres to 9 metres. To support flight, their "bones" have structurally supportive ivory rods, while their muscles have high concentrations of leghemoglobin, which store oxygen and release it in oxygen-deprived situations.
The Draconemarians are not descended from the Trimalans with which they coexist, nor the previously dominant Retroincendons; they are descended from the Primisaurs, which reached their heyday hundreds of millions of years ago.
During the Mesoean period, while the Retroincendons occupied the megafaunal niches, on the northern isolated continent of Notora, advanced scansorial Primisaurs still dominated the trees. Some species developed flaps of skin between the limbs to glide between trees. They also developed partial endothermy, which they had the ability to switch on and off. When the M-N boundary event wiped out the ectothermic retroincendons, these highly adaptive Primisaurs survived to diverge into the Draconemarians.
Flight is a very efficient form of travel, allowing creatures using it to surpass obstacles on land which would otherwise discourage a land dweller. However, flight is also very energy consuming, and results in many morphological adaptations.
- Wings: The midlimbs of Draconemarians are designed for flapping flight: the bones are long, and thin skin stretches between the limb sections. Draconemarians use these to fly by flapping them powerfully up and down, creating lift in the process. Consequently, the Narumartus bone that connects the libm to the underspine is large and concave, to store massive muscles filled with leghemoglobin for oxygen storage (as leghemoglobin has a much higher oxygen affinity than hemoglobin, and only releases it in oxygen-deprived situations).
- Oxyabsorber System: Unlike in most other Hexapedes, each Oxyabsorber in a Draconemarian is connected to its own trachea and nostril, and while one is exhaling another would be inhaling, resulting in a constant flow and absorbing of oxygen.
- Ivory Bone Supports: The keratinous bones of Draconemarians are very thin for lightweightedness. Consequently, they are at more of a risk of breakage. The bones are therefore supported through the interior and exterior with thin triangular rods made of ivory.
Clades (as of 4000 myai)Edit
Curvaascellids, latin for curved wings, diverged from the more diverse Potencervids quite early in evolutionary history; they are distinguishable by their extendable curved wingtips.
The Latradraconids are successful opportunistic predators and scavengers, ranging from rather small and swift scavengers, to menacing nocturnal predators circling the skies. Compared to other Draconemarians, they have short, powerful necks, massive upper bodies filled with internalized wing muscles and four lungs, and large jaws filled with curved, hooklike keratinous spines. There are three subfamilies:
The Suffurorinae, or Suffurors, are opportunistic predators and scavengers, ranging in wingspan from 40 centimetres to one metre. Social creatures, Suffurors hunt or scavenge in gangs, grouping together to trap and kill small prey, or mob other predators to scare them off and obtain their kills. Suffurors have larger hindlimbs than other Draconemarians, but they are still relatively short in comparison to the front limbs.The Vigilinae are nocturnal predators, and circle the skies at night solitarily, looking down at the ground and scanning it for prey with large, discerning eyes possessing multiple lenses. Once prey has been spotted, an unlucky Oligopecid in most cases, it swoops down and clamps down on its unlucky victim using jaws filled with cone-shaped spines, killing it with blood loss.
The Rapaxvenatorinae are social, living in family groups known as pods. They hunt by surrounding herds of Veloxsilvestrids and harassing them until one weak link appears, at which all the Rapaxvenatores swoop down and kill it with multiple bites, eventually letting it die of shock and blood loss. Some species possess a forward facing keratinous jaw spike on each jaw, with which them jam them into the throats of prey, severing vital ducts.
Only containing one family of parasites, the word Proasseculaveidea is synonymous to Asseculaveidae.
The strangest of the strange, the tiny Asseculaveids are parasites through and through. The embryos are inserted into a hole in the side of a host, upon which they will devour some flesh, fly away and attach themselves onto a new host. When they find a host, they latch onto their flanks with their powerful front limbs, and eat and burrow a hole deep into the host, accumulating the nutrients to produce several embryos, lay them within the creature, and die. Asseculaveids lack eyes, but have an extremely acute chemosensitivity. Their bodies have massive stomachs, which can bloat to three times the empty size with flesh and blood of its host.
Named for their powerful necks, usually at least 1/3 as long as their bodies, this order is the most diverse, encompassing creatures from terrestrial ambush predators, to colorful jungle denizens, to the some of the largest flying exoanimals ever to exist on Animula.
The Naviculanids are semiaquatic, carnivorous predators, mainly feeding on opthalmians and small semiaquatic Trimalans. Most species are adept swimmers, with some, notably those from the Cymbascellus genus, able to spread their wings as floats and hover at the surface of the water without much effort. There are two genuses:
The Cymbascellus are hypercarnivorous, small to medium-sized Draconemarians. They live in freshwater or estuarine environments, and have the ability to spread their wings over the water, acting as floats, allowing them to save precious energy. With their wings out as floats, Cymbascellus use their short but powerful hind legs to paddle the water; while the thin, stiltlike front limbs are held against the body. As the Cymbascellus floats at water level, the head, with long, gripping jaws filled with rows and rows of spiny, pinlike teeth for gripping prey, ready to spring forward with the help of a muscular neck as thuck as the skull, plunges in and out of the water, picking opthalmians out of the water and swallowing them whole.The Metentitherium, latin for harvesting beast, are similarly hypercarnivorous, but lack the floating ability of their flat-winged brethren. In contrast, Metentitherium often pick at prey where the water is shallow enough, or dive in and swim after their prey. The front limbs of Metentitherium are much more powerful, and contract with lightnign speed in conjunction with a powerfully extended neck to bring the shorter, more powerful jaws of Metentitherium plunging into the water, spearing its opthalmian prey and then swallowing it whole. The hind limbs are smaller, but still powerful enough to push off with the strength necessary to bring the Metentitherium soaring into the skies above.
The largest flying creatures ever to soar the skies of Animula. The apex predators of multiple ecosystems, Draconemarids can have wingspans of up to 12 metres, and lengths of 6, with 2 metres of that length composed of its powerful neck and massive jaws. Many species have some luminescent body parts, mainly as a territorial threat display. They find a mate by emitting infrasound calls, which they pick up through their thin legs; upon meeting, they engage in deadly combat, and if the stronger individual deems the mate worthy, they copulate through their cistainitia, and one individual carries the embryo. Draconemarids are pure large prey specialists, as they lack the agility to hunt small prey, or the aquatic skill to hunt aquatic prey, and as such are rare and many species are endangered.
There are two genera: the diurnal Basileusaurus, the largest of the large, and their smaller, nocturnal relatives the Dracolatrans hunt for the same prey: Nullamobestids, and these creatures are too large for even Draconemarids to kill; instead, they swoop down, rip huge chunks of flesh out of their victim's body, and fly up and away to a safer location.
Spectacular creatures, the Luminosilvestrids, latin for light beasts, are colorful to a near pretentious level. They feed on small forest dwelling Terraduritians and Exoanimals, as well as mats and bulbs; their jaws are sharp and have a hole in front, so they use them to poke a hole into a bulb and then suck out the nutritious, sugar filled juices. They possess luminous spots on their jaws and down the base of their necks, and use these colors to attract mates. The wing skins also possess striking colors, and when suddenly unfurled can impress a potential mate or shock a predator.
The Legionculids, also known as the Rimpids, are eusocial Draconemarids, and so called for their destructive power in an environment. They are divided into two families:
The Castraartifexids, latin for castle-builders, are divided into two phenotypes: the Mater, and the Artifexes. The Mater is a massive (in terms of Legionculids) embryo-producing factory, with hugely swollen Cistainitia which can produce tens of offspring at once. The Artifexes are the workers and defenders. They work in huge numbers to build a tower-like structure from twigs and dead mats, which house food storages and the Mater. In the face of an assailant, the Artifexes mob it, taking bites out of it, and this eventually drives even the most persistent predator away. During the mating season, the Artifexes mob the queen, attempting to fertilize it; however the Mater is formidable and all but the most fit of the Artifexes fail in their attempt. When an Artifex strong enough manages to fertilize the Mater, it releases a pheromone which subdues the other Artifexes.
The Vastatorids, latin for destroyers, travel in huge swarms, eating anything and everything they find. There are multiple Maters in a Vastatorid swarm; and the Artifexes are larger and more formidable, not having to build a tower. A swarm of Vastatorids can reach up to a thousand individuals, and are virtually indestructible: any predator that even attempts to assault a single Artifex will find himself covered in aggressive Vastatorids in seconds, have multiple massive holes in his flanks in a few more seconds, and be killed of blood loss in minutes.