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Carrion mites
Topic Started: Oct 3 2010, 07:42 AM (490 Views)
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Name: Carrion mites
Time: mid-late Carboniferous
Size: 3-5cm long
Diet: Scavenger, but it can attack small prey
Habitat: Rope tree vineland (on the ground floor as a rule), originally in Gondwana but spreading once Pangaea is formed

These fully terrestrial sigmatatora are relatives of the hunter mites, not only reproducing sexually as hunter mites do but also having a “lung” derived from the hunter mite swim bladder. These are fairly different from their aquatic relatives, having a further derived chitinous shell that covers far more of their body, whilst the muscles that once helped them swim have developed to allow the mites to crawl over the ground- making it look almost like an armoured worm. Instead of directly hunting prey, they prefer to scavenge on already dead bodies. Carrion mites often congregate on these corpses and fight over them: not only does it provide a good source of food, but it also gives males a chance to mate with visiting females.

They are somewhat hampered in their search by carrion by the fact that, unlike home earth’s insects, they can’t fly, limiting their foraging range. Carrion mites have developed several features to compensate for this dilemma. Firstly, they are capable of eating just about any part of the corpse, with what were once spear like mouth parts of their hunter mite ancestors having become more comparable to hack saw like mandibles for handling parts such as the exoskeleton or the toughest bits of flesh. As a result, they afford to arrive late to a corpse, as they'll still get something to eat.

Meanwhile, they now have a sense organ comparable to a snake’s Jacobson organ which helps them to find a corpse. Instead of using a tongue as a snake does; carrion mites use their hair covered mandibles to gather information on the surroundings (in the form of particles) for the organ in the mouth to sample. Finally, they are perfectly capable of eating things other than carrion, such as the eggs of terrabites, allowing for them to survive on land. However, they themselves must be careful, since the only real use of the shell is to prevent water loss, they easily become a meal for adult terrabites or other predators.
Edited by StinglessBee, Mar 27 2011, 01:13 PM.
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