Following up on my previous question, , I was wondering how I could imply that these serpentine sophonts evolved from burrowers. My logic is they evolved on an Eyeball Earth while its red dwarf sun was still flaring. They adapted to this by staying underground. But then the star stops flaring so the sophonts can stay on the surface all the time. Is there some way I can imply this besides rows of spikes?

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    $\begingroup$ Why a row of spikes? And aren't snakes already believed to have evolved from burrowing ancestors? $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Is this prose fiction or for a game? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


There are several obvious ways this can be done. What comes to mind immediately:


  • they never make tall buildings; they prefer to, well, burrow their homes & workshops & offices in the sides of hills
  • perhaps their biggest cities are made along cliffs & ravines
  • prime real estate is the deepest delving; the cheapest is out on the cliff face itself
  • where hills and ravines are rare, they will build artificial mound dwellings where again the penthouse is the deepest while the low rent districts are along the outside


  • they don't feel safe in the open: they never sleep anywhere without at least six blankets which they can wrap up in
  • for furniture, even when it's indoors, they prefer bulky, enclosed structures; beds are veritable mini caves, blanket filled, within cosy, small bed chambers
  • their folk heroes are John Henry types: like Essmeth Deepdelver, the empress who was the first to build a surface mansion; naturally it was a great Mound and its mathoms ran deep and spiralling within
  • their languages still retain idioms deprecating surface life: whereas we might call some ignoramus a troglodyte, they would say "she's such a surface wanderer!"

You imply it by having them stay in burrows most of the time.

They can stay on the surface. It is safe. But they don't like it. It does not feel right. They want to be wrapped in the earth - a feeling that was very adaptive to their ancestors. If this is prose fiction you can describe the discomfort of individuals out under the sky and their apprehension about having to go up there.

If you do not have text and need to convey this visually, model your sophonts on Bipes.




Bipes is a genus of amphisbaenians found only in Mexico, the sole living member of the family Bipedidae.[2] Commonly known as ajolotes, they are carnivorous, burrowing reptiles, but unlike other species of amphisbaenians, they possess two stubby forelimbs placed far forward on the body.[3] The shovel-like limbs are used to scrape away soil while burrowing, in a manner similar to a mole...

Having giant mole-like claws is a good way to show your creature is a burrower. Living in the dark they will not have pigment or visible bodily design, although intelligent creatures might add aftermarket designs – clothing, jewelry, etc. Eyes evolved for low or absent light would struggle in the light and your creatures might need to wear goggles like DC comics MoleMan.

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    $\begingroup$ Today I Learnt that Mole-Snakes are a real thing, and are heckin cute. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Just for what it worths: "Ajolote" shouldn't be confused with the other ajolote, derived from the Nahuatl word axolotl, which is the even cuter salamander relative. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 15:59

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