Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
51

This is the four-eyed fish: It has only two eyes, but it two pupils and two retinas in esch. It evolved to hunt by the water surface, catching prey from both above and below. Where there is an evolutionary pressure, there is a way to evolve. This fish proves that what you want is possible. However, do notice that this fish evolved multiple pupils because ...


19

The most obvious reason for retaining the spikey look is the fact that the spikes are not scales but scutes. Although developed from the same squamous exodermis cells a scute or osteoderm is very different from a scale. While scales can be shed regularly to allow for growth, scutes may have continuous growth from a lower level of vascularity within the ...


17

Zaphod, president of the Galaxy, once hid his second head by putting a cage over it and pretending it held a talking bird. In the movie, he also hides it in his coat collar.


14

Your Baku are instinctive therapy animals. Possibly a highly evolved/bred form of service dog. Essentially they instinctively recognise (via smelling hormones, observing bodily micro expressions and listening to vocal stress patterns) when the person they are ‘attached’ to is under stress or having happy thoughts. This can either be in REM sleep or while ...


13

Mass migration The simplest way for organisms to adapt to such changes is not to change so rapidly (a couple hundred years isn't much) but rather to migrate, as whole ecosystems, along with the changes in habitats. The periodic changes would mean that the following adaptations would be useful: The ability to migrate (obviously) - while easy for many ...


12

Based on our current understanding of reproductive biology it is not possible. Each parent, in sexual reproduction, supplies half of the entire genetic set, which is then paired and used to build up a new organism. To have two matching halves it is necessary that both parents have the same number of chromosomes: just look at what happens when, in humans, ...


11

It’s a centipede!!! Specifically: a highly evolved giant centipede from the grasslands of a low gravity, oxygen rich world. The legs are clustered together, and are long and spindly both to aid in locomotion and also to help entangle (or ‘brush up’) potential prey. The high center of gravity of this creature is actually of help to it, as in the low gravity ...


10

Infrared, Sonar, and Other Waves Some animals use "bio sonar", or echolocation as a form of "sight" (ie, navigating and foraging). It's also possible for your creatures to see infrared radiation. If fact, your creatures could emit small amounts of waves from just about anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, except for visible light, and therefore "see" ...


10

There is no problem. Don't get bogged down by trying to imagine "how the world looks" to such a creature. In the real world, there are all kinds of animals with all kinds of senses coming from all kinds of angles and it just works, because brains are flexible and don't really care where their information is coming from or what form it takes, as long as it ...


9

There is one way: Hide it in plain sight. With the right makeup and clothing, you can make it look like a costume. This will admittingly work best with some sort of event (maybe a Halloween party or season) The main idea is to convince people that since it's so obvious, it must be fake. It's obviously a costume right? Two headed people don't exist. Hiding ...


9

The spikes on your little sungazer seem to be arranged to discourage attacks from behind. To grab the (usually) vulnerable neck from behind, an attacker would have to rake his (always) vulnerable belly across those very jagged spinal scales. This could also be used to dissuade unwelcome sexual advances which human-intelligent female dragons would find ...


8

Regeneration Cellular regeneration does occur in humans, both naturally and induced. The homunculi simply have a strong regeneration capacity; normally this is crippled (but not eliminated) when the sperm cell merges with an egg, which is why we humans can regenerate some, but not all organs. The homunculi, however, were never "distorted" by the egg; they ...


8

Reasons for "spikes" in dragons: Temperature regulation. Being able to move those in different angles to the sun, and "vent" heat is one reason. Sexual prowress/sexual selection, which you are already allowing for. Water collection. As in the thorny devil of Australia, the Texas horned lizard in North America and Horvath's toad-headed agama in Turkey--all ...


7

Many insects already have hulks which are optical crystals, i.e. iridescent (what you are looking for here). Birds also have iridescent feathers, like the common pigeon. Their feathers sometimes look green: they aren't, it's an optical effect. So, basically, it may be some substance (oil?) which just makes optical properties of their skin apparent.


7

Yes but. You have to abandon the literality of this requirement: The children can be mix of the parents gene because there is no way of doing that, unless the creature has a complete genetic reengineering laboratory onboard. Just think that some creatures have a given number of chromosomes and genes, and other have different numbers. What would, or ...


7

maybe things like Alaskan Bull Worm from spongebob squarepants or sandworm from dune. not necessary that big, you know stuff like wyrm, by digging the soil or rock under the cities to make it collapse entire city like cave in or sink hole (deep enough to make sure people die when falling there, even if some survive the wyrm probably eat them with the rest ...


6

KISS! (Keep it Simply Stupid) One pupil per eye, multiple eyes because multi-pupiled eyes would become a nightmare from an optical design perspective: The pictures you posted are about the exterior of the eye but the interior is what makes it work, and there is no biological advantage in multi-pupiled eyes as you'd need multiple lenses, irises, ciliary ...


6

While having skin (or lack thereof) that actually revealed the musculature of a creature would be extremely impractical, the Australis turns this apparent weakness into a strength. Rather than having exposed muscles, the Australis's skin is covered in bundles of dense, tough, but elastic protective fibers that act as a non-restrictive layer of armour and ...


6

I think that, away from the equator, it would be very difficult for most living organisms to live through the cold part of your climate cycle with just some extra fur or such. Most organisms that would want to keep active through that period would need to migrate towards the equator. Tardigrades can survive pretty extreme conditions, so I would imagine that ...


6

Boring answer: cow feet, basically. Water buffalo are real life cow-like quadrupeds who like shallow fresh water in tropical climates. They have no problem with mud. They kinda like it. Hippos are another obvious example, and their family tree might also provide inspiration.


5

Not really, but it could be close. Essentially, a few things would be required. The first is the chain itself, which at a guess is best done by using the already existing flagella structure found on bacteria. Flagella aren't used for this purpose, so we're going to replace it with essentially a cat o' nine tails of long polymers (very, very long polymers). ...


5

Tortoises. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/60at60/2015/8/2002-largest-tortoise-392870?fb_comment_id=930327760361933_1338242276237144 The unusual thing about this challenge is that the object transported is dragged, unmodified, across the ground. This as opposed to a cart or sledge where the cargo is elevated to shoulder level of oxen or horses, ...


5

For animals, migration appears to be the best option. You could have heat loving animals that retreat towards the equatorial regions during the'cold' period, and expand into the higher latitudes during the 'hot' period. A population of cold loving animals would similarly migrate between polar and 'temperate' latitudes. Regarding alternatives: I don't think ...


5

One example: Egypt. The oracle of Amon said that all those who drink the waters of the Nile are egyptians. That could mean 2 things: Those who live by the nile were egyptians or those that learned the egyptian culture (the Nile) were egyptians. The egyptians didnt care much for race or skin color, they cared if the rulers followed the Maat and the Maat says ...


5

For killing that particular prey? A very big pitcher plant that emits the scent of a superdillo in heat. Amorous superdillo runs up at a reckless speed, falls in, and is too heavily armoured to get out of the super sloppy death pot. Seriously though: the reason we see so much specialisation in nature is because the ‘ultimate’ anything doesn’t really exist. ...


4

The horn(s) have two jobs: concentrate the outgoing force to maximize damage to the other party and to dissipate the incoming force (while being strong enough to not break). If you have ever seen actual head butting used in combat, the center of the forehead just below or at the hair line seems to be the strongest part of the front of the head. You can ...


4

@vodolaz095 gives a good answer but I don't think it answers the question you had in mind. If I interpret your question correctly: You are not looking at a standard symbiotic relationship where two creatures cannot survive without the other (which is what @vodolaz095 was answering) but a relationship where if one member of the partnership is damaged or ...


4

There is a lot of symbyotic organisms - lichen, humans and their gastrointestinal microbiota, and so on. For example, there is cold climate with some pathogen present in atmosphere of planet in your story. One of symbiotic creatures in your story breathes away antidot against this pathogen, and this creature is small and docile. While other creature - is ...


4

hmmm maybe an ox or bull they are good at pulling or dragging heavy stuff like tree stump or plowing field, since the terrain is dificult, elephant seems not a possible choice and i kinda doubt they have enough strength to pull stuff like that, all i can suggest to alter is mix it with camel hump or ability so they wont quickly get thirsty or hungry. here ...


4

A rather hilarious answer is in this British ad for milk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GSuH6LYMho Cats.....with thumbs! Realistically, the thumb would have to integrate with the wrist joint and the other phalanges, so a lot of exotic configurations that you might see on Science Fiction illustrations of aliens will not be feasible for creatures which ...


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