I was thinking I would have a race and at the most basic level it is a ground covering moss. As it encounters other colonies of itself they will join together to form one contiguous colony while keeping the genetic diversity of both colonies. Once any given colony of moss reaches a certain (probably large) size it will achieve limited sentience and as it grows larger it grows smarter though it itself is only able to determine things that it is in contact with. This moss is capable of choosing to grow any of three types of flowers, the first of which when fertilized it will form into a spore pod that, when mature, ejects large amounts of spores high into the air to be taken by the wind to grow new colonies. The other two types of flowers when fertilized will produce a pod that will grow either a worker or a soldier. Both workers and soldiers contain live colonies of the moss inside them and if they remain still in a colony of moss long enough the colony will join with the moss in their body and allow them to "talk" with the colony of moss. Drones and soldiers communicate to each other using speech.

Workers are Humanoid in form with one head, two legs and two arms that end in hands, range between 2-4 feet tall and are on average about as smart as a human. Their main function is gathering resources and building structures that aid the moss in spreading or resisting the forces of nature. They do not use photosynthesis despite being plants because moving and thinking take up a ton of energy so they are omnivorous eating anything they can get their hands on. They do not store excess energy as fat but they have a bladder of calorie and nutrient rich liquid that they store excess energy in. This bladder can expel this liquid into their mouth which they can then swallow and digest for energy or pass off to another worker or soldier who might need it.

Soldiers are four legged creatures that are 1-6 feet at the shoulder and share roughly the same proportions as wolves. Soldiers have large claws and teeth for their size and are intelligent enough to use speech, but their vocabulary is lacking. Soldiers are generally subservient to workers and will take orders from them with larger soldiers often being drafted to be beasts of burden. If left alone soldiers will attempt to bury themselves in the moss and stay still allowing itself to connect to the moss. These stationary soldiers will be constantly alert looking for creatures that might harm the moss and if they are alerted to hostiles then they can have the moss they are connected to relay it to every other soldier connected to the moss to raise the alarm before trying to defend the area. The added benefit of being attached to the moss most of the time is that they can act like access points for all mobile workers and soldiers to talk to the moss through. Soldiers do not eat anything, save for the high energy liquid produced by workers, this allows them to have a very low energy cost digestive system and have more room inside to pack everything they need for murder.

Workers and soldiers do not grow after being "birthed" by the moss, and when they die the live colony moss they have inside of them consumes them to either join with the colony of moss that the creature died on or create a new colony wherever the creature died. The moss can also select for traits it wants in the next generation/group of workers or soldiers by choosing to only flower in the places with the moss where the workers and soldiers with the traits it wanted died.

So my question is, Could this setup possibly work without things like magic or technology so advanced it is indistinguishable from magic, and what could make it better?


1 Answer 1


I'm not certain this will work as it is without some form of magic but a few changes might make it work.

The moss growing and absorbing smaller colonies is probably fine and a similar thing happens with cells absorbing smaller cells/viruses in the real world.

I have no idea if a moss achieving sentience is possible. I would think it is impossible or highly unlikely. On the other hand I don't know this and I think many people would believe that a moss could become sentient.

A moss could definitely create different types of flower. Most animals can produce two varieties of offspring (male and female) and some plants have separate male and female flowers.

I don't think a moss could create what are essentially animals. Your only feasible option is a symbiotic relationship between the moss and an ant-like species. This would work pretty much as you describe except the creatures would not be birthed from the moss.

Some explanation is still be required to explain how creatures communicated with the moss and how the soldiers send their long-range communications, possibly pheromones.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Bellerephon. This looks like a symbiotic relationship between the moss colonies and possibly two social species of animals, the drones and the wolves. The only reason the moss might achieve sapience is to process its communications with and between its drones and soldiers especially if the colonies were competing for resources. Drones and wolves have speech, while the moss 'might' use chemical communication (not pheromones). If the moss was a sessile animal like some coral species, then it might talk too. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 5, 2016 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Why not pheromones? $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2016 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ Pheromones are usually too specific and usually send only one signal. As mating calls or sexual attractants. Like 'Feed!' 'Fight!' 'Run!' 'Copulate!' This isn't exactly eloquent conversation or communication. Chemical communication would replace sounds with chemicals. Crude, but not as crude as pheromones. A sessile talking animal makes more sense to me. YMMV. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 6, 2016 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that a symbiotic relationship is the clearest route to what you're describing. Each of the offspring are too different from the original moss to plausibly have been produced. Your moss could influence, via chemicals, which type of workers the accompanying colony of "ants" produced though. And FYI, moss doesn't produce flowers, just capsules containing spores. $\endgroup$
    – barney
    Oct 28, 2016 at 1:30

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