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Nna Moi with details by Viergacht Nna Moi with details by Viergacht
The Nna Moi
(pron. NAH Moy (to rhyme with 'boy' )

1. Close up of hand
2. Beak used as a hand
3. Flap over siphon opened
4. Long-distance sonar scan taken of Nna
5. Fetal Nna (note gills)
6. Act of mating
7. Nna with gravid tail
8. Resting pose


Human knowledge of the Nna Moi is necessarily incomplete. Considering we are technically at war, it is impressive that researchers have been able to compile the amount of information that we do have.

Home world

The Nna Moi world is a large planet tidally locked to its dim sun, so that one side is baked into a hellish desert, and the other is cold and desolate as the Moon, with a narrow belt of inhabitable temperate zone between. An active jet stream that mixes cold and warm air masses and a very slight axial wobble give the temperate belt constant stormy weather and a small amount of seasonal variation. Most conventional plants have a twisted, weathered, beaten look, with thick, squatty stalks or trunks and leathery leaves pigmented black to absorb every bit of available sunlight. There is a large and thriving variety of fungal species, including huge slime molds that slither about like giant amoebas, and many specimens which teeter on the line between plant and animal, with roots and chlorophyll but also actively trapping prey.

The Nna Moi world is very old, and the sun has swallowed many planets orbiting closer to it as it evolved into a red giant. In fact, the Nna Moi clearly evolved on a more earthlike planet closer to the sun when it was smaller and warmer, and emigrated or were brought to their present home. The remnants of monolithic architecture and a thin layer of unusual metals and chemicals in rocks roughly three million years old suggest there was a non-Nna Moi race which did the actual space travel. The Nna Moi themselves, it is speculated, were the pets or service animals of this earlier race, and were raised artificially to a high level of intelligence. After the previous race left or became extinct, the proto-Nna evolved into the sophont race known today.

Physical Description

The Nna seem to have evolved from a class of radially symmetric 8 limbed creatures similar to starfish. As the line progressed through time, the limbs specialized for different purposes, giving a wholly false impression of bilateral symmetry.

Nna Moi have long, low-slung bodies supported on four short, powerful limbs situated and jointed much as a human would expect them to be. This, along with their long tails and slinking movements, gives them an almost feline aspect (if the viewer squints very hard). Each paw has three broad, nailless digits with a rough underside which provides excellent traction.

The creature’s skin is normally smooth and hairless, leathery with a somewhat oily texture. Under our sun, it appears to be a deep, slightly iridescent purple with a faint pattern of dark veining. In cold weather, pockets on the skin inflate, giving it a warty, pebbled appearance - these air pockets act as insulation, much like the fluffed fur of a mammal or feathers of a bird. Under their own sun, Nna Moi appear pitch black, of course. Their bodies give off an eye-wateringly strong scent, acidic and sweetish, which humans have compared to freshly cut lines. Surges of emotion intensify the scent.

The shoulder girdle and skull are formed by a single bone. The golden eyes are located on what to humans appears to be the crest of the shoulders, pointing forward and protected by a mobile ridge of hornets. The pupils are horizontal slots, much like an that of an octopus, and blink by retracting into the socket, letting the rim of muscle and skin close over them. They are startlingly intelligent and aware, and give the overwhelming impression of shrewdness. Not even the thickest human could mistake a Nna Moi for an animal once meeting that gaze.

Behind the eyes is a tiny, wing-like fringed flap that covers the nostrils. In infant Nna the fringes are gills, but in the adult they have atrophied to mere cilia. The flaps are mobile, opening wider during extremes of emotion. Air passes through the respiratory system one way, and stale air is exhaled through paired ‘exhaust pipes’ that point backwards over the hips. The sounds of their speech are produced by a syrinx in these pipes, and the impression that their voices are emanating from their rear ends is disconcerting to humans (who, typical of the species, express their discomfort by making rude jokes).

Nna possess a highly refined sense of taste, with the taste buds being located on the skin of the back, chest and sides, and thickly clustered on the tail. This doubles as a sense of smell, and Nna “sniff” by waving their tails in the air.

On the front of the chest are two rather spindly arms that are held tightly folded up, like those of a praying mantis or maniraptor dinosaur. The arms terminate in delicate hands with five boneless tentacle-like fingers. The middle finger is the longest, with two other digits on each side and two short thumbs. The Nna use these hands for tasks requiring fine manipulation.

Sprouting from the shoulders is what appears to be a short, thick, flexible neck terminating in a featureless beaked head. This structure is in fact more like an elephant’s trunk and is used as a third arm for tasks requiring more strength than finesse. Ancestral beasts used the false head to kill and dismember prey. There is no trachea or esophagus, and the “beak“ (technically called a nothoceph) is more comparable to fingers (a single solid piece on top, and two hinged parts on the bottom). The main pair of eardrums are located behind the beak, and for the most part it is in constant motion, twisting and bobbing around. It is also used in communication, for example, the Nna bonk beaks on meeting, and if there is a dispute they will beak-wrestle vigorously. Humans feel an almost irresistible urge to talk to this appendage, as it so closely resembles an earth animal’s head.

The opening to the digestive tract is located on the abdomen. When ready to eat, the Nna appears to “unzip” down the centerline, and food is stuffed directly into the stomach. There is no separate anus - what is left of the food is vomited out the same aperture, a startlingly primitive arrangement in such a highly evolved life form.

The “tail” is actually the reproductive system. For most of its length it is thin and whiplike, terminating in a four-lobed bulb, the ‘spine’ of the bulb protected by thorny outgrowths. For more on this, see the section of Reproduction.


Psychology and Culture

Nna do not pair bond with mates or children, nor do they form families. The only societal bond seems to be based upon that of a pack of hunters. When any two Nna Moi meet, there is a brief and ritualized struggle for dominance, and until dominance issues are settled, they cannot get along. Modern Nna appear to have overcome this limitation, which would otherwise lock them in a tribal stage, by doing most of their communication remotely. No human has ever been in a Nna city, but it is hypothesized that each one is self-sufficient and separated from others by vast areas of wilderness.

Nna predominantly eat meat, although they are able to digest certain types of fungus. They do not appear to have ever domesticated lesser animals.

For recreation, Nna compete in violent full-contact ball-and-stick games, or relax while reading, listening to their peculiar music (which strikes human ears as Lovecraftian piping and wailing), or letting clouds of scented smoke waft over their bodies. They are also extremely fond of recreational heavy petting, as they know full well when they’re receptive, so there is no chance of accidental mating.

Living as they do on a world of constant daylight, the Nna do not sleep, but do experience similar periods in which their consciousness is not operating and they regress mentally to beasts. Civilized Nna take precautions and shut themselves away with food and water when they feel one of these atavistic periods coming on.

The Nna are also vulnerable to cold temperatures, as they are only incompletely warm-blooded. When temperatures drop beyond their ability to cope, their brains begin shutting down and the Nna will run wild, desperate for food to stoke its metabolic fires.

Reproduction and Development

Nna Moi have fourteen genders, each of which can mate with 2-5 of the others, and two of which are completely sterile. The act of mate selection is almost entirely up to whims of the moment. The skin of the tail is packed with touch and taste sensors which become more sensitive as it readies itself to breed, and the mind of a Nna Moi in rut is overwhelmed by a flood of sensory information to the point of atavism. Foreplay involves “arm-wrestling” using the nothoceph, rubbing up against one another, stroking and probing with the arms, and quite a lot of intertwining of tails.

As passions flare, gametes are released down the tail ducts and swell the bulb. However, only one individual will walk away from the encounter impregnated - the host, the one whose bulb splits open to engulf the bulb of the donor, biting it off and swallowing it. Enzymes quickly dissolve the outer structure of the captured bulb, freeing the donor’s gametes to mix with the host’s. The soup of fertilized zygotes is the swallowed back into the tail ducts. The donor is not badly harmed. Blood vessels close off quickly and bleeding is minimal, however, mating season is over for it. It takes roughly 5 (earth) months to regrow a bulb. Meanwhile, the host can participate in another mating session, in which it inevitably becomes the donor.

As pregnancy progresses, the gravid Nna Moi’s tail swells to accommodate the growing embryos. At first they are nourished by the yolk of their eggs, but after three months they hatch and begin to feed on the fat, flesh and blood of their mother’s tail. Outwardly, the tail loses its fat, sleek appearance and begins to appear raddled. As birth approaches, the squirming movements of the young can be seen clearly under the skin. At birth, the mother drops her tail like a lizard, and the young swarm out of the open wound where the tail once attached to the body, leaving behind a tail that is little more than bone, a few strands of cartilage, and an empty sack of skin. The mother will require a little over a year to regrow the tail and bulb.

Nna infants are born very developed and are able to move about and feed themselves immediately. For the first stage of their lives, they are raised entirely by the two neuter genders. It takes a Nna roughly twenty years to reach maturity, signaled by the ripening of their bulb, at which point they are allowed to enter society on a discretionary basis. Fools and incompetents are not tolerated by the Nna, and inadequate young adults will be ruthlessly culled by their seniors before they can pollute the bloodline.
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:iconericthepilot:
Ericthepilot Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
very cool, but why are they at war with us?
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015  Professional General Artist
It's super complicated but basically has to do with controlling the ability to travel between alternate universes. 
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:iconericthepilot:
Ericthepilot Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
seems legit
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:iconryan-bowers:
Ryan-Bowers Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
A very intriguing sophont
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Professional General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconmonsterousoperandi:
MonsterousOperandi Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I like the placement of the eyes
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:iconthecapewildman:
TheCapeWildMan Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013
Very creative!
Reply
:iconoblivionjunkey94:
OblivionJunkey94 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
This is a very cool alien
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:iconroundgobyrock223:
roundgobyrock223 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
...
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:iconparasky:
Parasky Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cool organism. Some of their psychology and neurology is similar to an intelligent being of my own design.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Professional General Artist
Yah? Which one?
Reply
:iconparasky:
Parasky Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Reply
:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
Both were inspired by critters like starfish, I assume :)
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:iconphaidrosthepeep:
PhaidrosthePeep Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011
Truly alien critter, lovely drawed and with an imaginitive backstory. It looks like a short special of the "Galactic Geographical Society". Are you going to make more of the same eco-system? I would look forward to it!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Professional General Artist
I have some floating around in mind , but nothing too developed yet.
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:iconsilvertide:
Silvertide Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011
This is such a strange design, in a refreshing way. I find it interesting to consider if something like this were possible in nature.
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:iconthatbenkid:
thatbenkid Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2011
This is some damn fine work! I love the skeleton cross section, gives it some added believability.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconlycan-metal:
Lycan-metal Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dude this is amazing great great detail
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:icondsil:
DSil Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011  Student General Artist
Damn, that is some serious thought invested in this guy! Fascinating design as well, I love the decentralized sensory organs.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thanks. I kind of threw in everything I like for alien design into the pot.
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:iconalienation:
alienation Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
This is brilliant; very well thought out and innovative without being cliché (seriously, how many wolf variations have we seen?). Very believable; well done!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2010  Professional General Artist
Some days it's all wolves, dragons and horses XD
Thanks.
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:iconalienation:
alienation Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, it's refreshing to something that actually represents a new *species*, rather than some rehash of existing ones xD breath of fresh air, really.
Quite welcome, you are.
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:iconthesla:
THesla Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you surely know how to mix "earthy" features an features we do not have. that's what i call skill.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:icondeltashade18k:
DeltaShade18K Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010
Reminds me of Final Fantasy creature. I want one.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010  Professional General Artist
Which one? I've never played that.
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:icondeltashade18k:
DeltaShade18K Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010
Not a specific one, it just seems so fitting among some of the weird creatures you fight in that game.
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:iconlee-sherman:
Lee-Sherman Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2010
Very alien, yet very believable in a weird way. Great job!
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:iconguyverman:
Guyverman Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010
What technological level are they at?
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010  Professional General Artist
Somewhat more advanced than us real people at the present moment (in the story universe, humans have discovered how to access parallel worlds) although from our perspective they'd seem backwards in some ways. Their telecommunications are very advanced, important for a species of carnivores that can't live in density, for example, but they don't bother with a lot of the things we consider basic comforts (lighting at night).
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:iconsnowest:
Snowest Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2010
When I see pic 2, I think graboid! :D lol

This looks awesome, and very alien. Very very detailed description too :D
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2010  Professional General Artist
Yeah, it's a bit of an homage to one of my favorite sci-fi critters!
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:iconsnowest:
Snowest Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010
Haha, cool :D
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Student General Artist
This is a really brilliant and thoughtful design! I'll have to return and read through more closely .. I really should be sleeping now, heh,.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Professional General Artist
I usually do such conventional looking critters, it was fun to try and come up with something just nuts.
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2010  Student General Artist
Ok, I finally ot back to reading this, after stumbling across your Koozbane stuff. Are these involved in a related plotline, or are they totally separate?
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2010  Professional General Artist
Nope, totally different. I just like alternate universes :)
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2010  Student General Artist
Don't we all :p
Reply
:icondirector1265:
Director1265 Featured By Owner May 15, 2010
I have a few questions about the Nna Moi:

1. You placed in no description of size. How big are the Nna compared to humans?

2. How do they react upon contact with humans? How do humans react upon contact with the Nna?

3. From what you describe here, they apparently struggle to maintain human-level intelligence. How can they maintain a civilization with such a disadvantage?

4. When it comes to geological conditions, can a human survive on the Nna homeworld without any kind of breathing apparatus, pressure-maintainace suit, or any kind of heat/cold/radiation protection? Can the same be said for the Nna if they were on Earth? If not, what would a person, human or Nna, need to survive on the opposite race's native planet?



Anyways, I am impressed. What you have here is a truly alien alien. Very few people seem to get it: if aliens do in fact exist (which I believe they do), then they would be virtually NOTHING like humans! You seem to be truly creative in terms of xenobiology, and you would in fact, in my opinion, totally qualify to be a professional xenobiologist/xenosocialogist!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner May 16, 2010  Professional General Artist
1. They're roughly the size of a very large male liger, about 900lbs.

2. Nna find humans distressing and horrifying. Psychologically, they're very xenophobic and aggressive. The first Nna who encountered humans attacked them and defeated them so easily they became convinced humans were innately inferior and deserved to be wiped out. They have trouble understanding how we're so successful as a species, and this enrages them further. Basically, the Nna were created to be the antagonists in a story, and I needed to give them the mentality to support that. We eventually make sane contact with a "maternal neuter".

3. I actually wonder how humans manage to hold a socety together when we're really built to work on a tribal level. It's not the IQ that's the problem. The Nna just have it a little worse, where we function best in a group of less than 200, they function best in groups of less than 15. They're organized in units like an army, each 'pack' subordinate in toto to another in a very intricate hierarchy. A human would not find it a pleasant arrangement, but it works for them.

4. I haven't gone into as much detail on the planet, since it doesn't show up much in the story. A human could probably survive for a short time without an environmental suit, but wouldn't enjoy themselves much. It really depends exactly where on the planet they are. The tropical belt would be the most inhabitable area, but the atmosphere is more like that of Devonian earth. Very warm, very humid. A Nna would find Earth irritating, but they have some structural respiratory advantages so wouldn't be bothered quite as much by the more rarefied atompshere. They would have the most problems with extreme cold, although they could survive it in the short term.

And thanks! I xenobiology would be a dream job, if it existed!
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:iconmcmisher:
mcmisher Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
an original!!!!!!!!!!!! :love: :clap:
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:iconmesklinite01:
Mesklinite01 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2009
A very interesting creature and an adorably alien design!
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:iconm0ai:
M0AI Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Fascinating alien design. I've had this in my favorites folder for a while, but just now found the time to read it and appreciate it. Very well-rendered image, and very interesting description of the species. I love its hands and feet, and I like how you made the musculature convergently similar to Earthly tetrapods, yet subtly different. Excellent work.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2009  Professional General Artist
Thanks :)
Reply
:iconharahu:
Harahu Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Great Design
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009  Professional General Artist
Thanks :)
Reply
:icondracontes:
dracontes Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the main detailed illustration works quite well with the detail sketches. Makes one think one's looking at one of those National Geographic foldouts :)

I disagree with some of your comments so let's get on with it :P

You are going to have to make up your mind about the parent star of the Nna Moi homeworld. Either it is a dim red dwarf, or a bright red giant.
The choice is dichotomous because red dwarfs do not attain a red giant stage at the end of their lives. The interior of these small stars is fully convective which does not allow the helium accumulation at the core that's bound to get us rather worried in a few gigayears. However these stars do brighten with age, as all do.

I have my misgivings about the uplift/provolving scenario but, hey, if the patron species is also native I'm cool with it.

I was ready to say I didn't get the masked radial symmetry but after looking at it again I guess I do. What could be construed as the symmetry axis of old goes from the tail to the mouth, am I right? I still find the skeleton too vertebrate-like from where I'm standing.
A technology note: long distance x-ray is not particularly likely as our atmosphere (and Nna Moi's presumably) absorbs that radiation rather quickly. I'd leave it as a active or passive sonar device.

While I do not disagree with the novel social arrangement I do disagree with its consequences in reproduction. I'd have pack members mate amongst themselves which stands to reason given the multiple sex combinations that could go wrong and the young raised within the pack by all members. Obviously I have my misgivings about the two sterile genders ;)
On the reproduction itself, it seems more probable that after the final mating for the season an individual would have its tail contract and ball up into a gestative sac. As it is now the gestating tail seems to heavy to not drag along the ground.

I hope that I wasn't too cruel and that all this nattering helps.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Professional General Artist
The star was a mistake, I meant dim red dwarf. And you're right, sonar is better than x-ray. My bad.

I know the skeleton looks similar to ours, but it's back engineering. I knew how I wanted them to look on the exterior, and went from there. A close up view of, say, the leg bones, would look very different. Instead of a smooth shaft it's an open latticework. A bit hard to put into words. I'll do something more detailed when I get out from under some commissions.

As for the genders, that's based on critters like slime molds. There isn't much of a problem of the wrong gametes meeting, the Nna would be able to tell by scent and other factors who it's OK to mate with. I don't see an obvious problem with the sterile genders, either. Wolves use non-reproducing adolescents to tend to cubs, ant colonies are almost entirely composed of sterile individuals, and I've read a paper on homosexual bird pairs raising the eggs of breeder pairs, which allows more of the breeder's eggs to survive, so it doesn't strike me as that bizarre that a social species would throw out individuals whose energies are not taken up with passing on their own genes. Humans squander a horrifying amount of time and energy raising young - it would be GREAT if there were a third gender devoted to child care that left the rest of the folks to pursue other important tasks.

As for the tails - actually, those are intended to look uncomfortable and awkward. I like to put qualities into critters that aren't perfect, because nature isn't about perfection. Pregnancy in humans involves a lot of unpleasantness because we're quads wrenched up into a bipedal stance (swollen feet, aching back, pressure on the bladder, etc), and a gravid Nna is similarly going to have to cope with dragging around a swollen tail for the duration. A gestative sac would be a good idea except there's no room in the torso for it.
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February 9, 2009
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