The order Psittacohoplia contains about sixteen species, ranging from a few grams to twenty tonnes. Their Latin/greek name Psittacohoplia means "parrot crest", which is reference to their colorful crests. They are a diverse and high derived order.
Most species possess heavy armor at their backs, which continuously shed every year to avoid being overweight (called molting). One notable difference from typical cancridonts are smaller jaws and the lack of jawblades (equivalents of teeth), however most species possess teeth during their childhood as a vestigial structure. Psittahoplids have crests, which are equipped bioluminescent patches (to display dominance) and with ampullae which detect the nerve-impulses of their predators similar to those of several shark genera. They display extreme sexual dimorphisim; males are more colourful and have larger crests which are made out of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.
FAMILY GLOSSADACTYLIDAE (TANGERINES, SMOOCHERS)Edit
Glossadactylidae is a highly specialized family, feeding only on nectar (and occasionally pollen) from Diplosexiums (Thalassan counterpart of angiosperms).
Glossadactyls have much smaller crest to body ratio compared to the other genera and have stouter legs and longer snouts; which give them the appearance of mouse deer although in a scale many times smaller (they are around several grams). Unlike mouse deer though, they have a much thinner frame. A feature that is unique to this family is the presence of a fleshy, mobile lip which acts like a seventh limb (unlike earths' fauna thalassan critters have six legs).
Most species of Glossadactylidae live in high elevations; which contain very little air, it is also far colder. But they compensate this by having airsacs, larger hearts, a thick layer of fat (blubber) and faster metabolisms. However one disadvantage of a faster metabolism means a shorter life, despite this they have high reproduction rates and give birth to very large litters. Unlike other families, its placenta is vestigial and is less developed. Instead the embryo gains nourishment from the yolk sac, which is behind the uterine wall.
FAMILY PSITTAPECUDAE (HAMMERHEADS, WISENTIAEdit
Psittapecudae is a rather primitive family. What distinguishes them from other families is the existence of lower incisors (which grow into tusk like structures in adult males) and its larger size (due to its more generalized diet). They can subsist on more fibrous material due to their fermenting gut, if necessary. However, they also supplement their diet by licking minerals (or eating their dung), in a similar manner to elephants and rabbits. They are partially cannibalistic, feeding on deceased members of their species, including young and old individuals. One species even subsists exclusively on flesh.
Unlike other families; they could flap their crests with the aid of muscles located at the base of their crests for sexual display. They resemble elephants and rhinoceros to some degree, also of course with major differences. Despite its resemblance to pachyderms (which is now a defunct taxon) it generally fills niches of moose and deer. However there are always some exceptions, one species (as mentioned before) fills niches of Entelodonts.
FAMILY PSITTALIDAE (MAGCRESTS, UNICORNSEdit
Magcrests are one of the most diverse family that ever existed. They are divided into several genera; Titanoglossis, Cladoalae, and Lagodactyla. These genera are very dissimilar in external appearance and behavior; which is evidence of an adaptive radiation somewhere in the past. Their ancestry traces back to the early Oligocene (Terran chronology); traced back to a small mole-like creature not too different to the members of Glossadactyla, however much plumper. Their close ancestry was not recognized until the mid-nineties (Thalassan chronology); they were placed in different families. The bull like Titanoglossis were place in Psittapecudae, while Lagodactyla in Glossadactylidae due to their small size and prehensile (yet thin) lip. However recent data shows that they share a common ancestor, also the presence of cartilage supporting the crests provide more evidence for this divergence. Other evidence include an retractable "instrument" (shaped like a spear) in the middle of its crest which are only found within the male members of the family. The purpose is unknown, however it is likely used for competition, and predators.
The first genus, Titanoglossis has a faint resemblance to the members of Psittapecudae. However there is some notable differences, which includes the smaller crest and duller bioluminescent patches. Also they have a small horn-sheath that covers the horn while it is retracted. Lagodactyla differs from other genera from its longer toe-bones and less prominent hooves (which now resemble claws). The third genus Cladoalae is the most unique. Its crests resemble branches, which is used for sexual display and for camouflage. Their bioluminescent patches can also glow a vivid green, again providing more camouflage. They often stay still; feeding on the leaves of real twigs.