Midgard - Puukala Picture

Puukala
From the words Puu and Mustekala, meaning Tree and Squid respectively in Finnish.

These are probably the most familiar aliens in appearance. Except for their lifestyle and having heat pitts rather than eyes, they look practically identical to Earth's Squid. Puukalas are ancient animals that became more specialised as the oceans slowly vanished. They probably evolved from small invertebrates that posed as small algae shrubs to lure prey.

Today, they still are ambush predators but are now drastically taller to mimic the common algae trees that ornate the last sea. Like our squids and octopuses, they use camouflage to hide from their prey and predators. Since most animals don't see color however, Puukalas change their bodies differently. At will, they can change the texture of their skin to match the stiff rubbery feeling of an algae tree. They also contract their blood vessels to cool down their bodies and match the temperature of the trees.

Prey items include young slimmers, swinging star fish and beach disks. When one of them find themselves within the snare of the Puukala's nine tentacles, the predator grabs hold of the prey. It proceeds to crush their rib cage with its large beak that acts like a nutcracker. A smaller slender beak within tears off pieces of flesh for consumption.

If animal of little interest gets too close, the Puukala loosens its muscles and waves its arms around, signaling the animal to leave. If they do not comply, Puukalas will release a foul stench from an orifice near their mouth, which also signals other Puukalas of the danger.

Puukalas are very social and also they can't move from their birthspot, they can communicate with one another by rapidly changing their body temperature at will. Since they also see with heat, it causes them to change color in appearance to one another, allowing them to communicate in a surprisingly complex code. Although they can only speak to nearby individuals directly, scientists believe they can carry messages to other members out of sight by playing a game of "telephone". If this is true, Puukalas may be one of the most intelligent animals on Midgard. They have already earned the respect of Midgardians who stay clear of them, and who have used Puukalas in their mythology.

To reproduce, Puukalas have copied the strategy used by the same trees they imitate. On parts of their tentacles, within the skin grows algae clumps, that the predators use to mimic the smell of the algae trees. Within their tentacles grow zits of algae that are used to lure flying herbivores that feed on algae. While the flyer plucks at one of the zits, the male Puukala secretly smears semen onto its back. As soon as that flyer visits a female, she will catch the scent of the semen. If it smells good to her, she will grab it and insert it in herself, but will ignore it if the smell is not appealing.

"This animal was originally meant to be from Geb7 and to live within the great swamp. I originally got the idea when I visited a park during spring time in 2007 that was covered with water due to a flood from the nearby creek. The trees closest to the waters edge were receiving light reflected from the water surface, creating ripple patterns on their bark. The original idea was to just have another color changer that was so sophisticated it could mimic the reflection of light from the water. However, this wasn't alien enough and it did not fit the ecology of Geb7. It was therefor moved to Geb7. That decision was very hard to make."

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