Hey everyone. I decided to work on a Creature of the Week piece for the first time in a very long time. This was for Clark Miller and I's anniversary round. The brief was to create a creature which would spend the first year of its life as a relatively beautiful or cute herbivore. Upon it's first birthday, the creature would then transform into a much uglier and much more predatory creature. I guess that means Clark and I will become evil predatory moderators for Creature of the Week, now. Heh.
Anyway these are the creatures I created. Originally, the mid-point creature was set to be the immature herbivorous form, but I came to realize it needed to be a little bit more cute and a little more beautiful. So I relegated that one to the mid-point between the two creatures and created the little pink plumed bugger to be the true herbivorous form.
Here's the description I gave for the creatures:
In the ashlands of Caliope's fourth planet, researchers noted a strange pattern. The Plumed Lumbox seemed to have no real natural predators, despite being a fairly healthy portion for any one of the many predators in the area. But even the Aspynx would leave them well enough alone most of the time. Slowly the reason became clear. Upon observing a Lumbox for an entire day it was discovered that the Ash Greel's (the apex predators of the area) would often escort the Lumbox around it's daily activities. There was no symbiosis here, the Lumbox provided no advantage to the Ash Greel, and the Ash Greel would mercilessly protect the small herbivores.
It was not until a six month research expedition that it was finally uncovered why this was. Scientists observed that at approximately a year old, the Plumed Lumbox would begin to eat excessive amounts, slowly shedding their feathers. Over this period they would begin to lose their attractive frills and feathers, as well as their bright colouring, slowly turning a purple-grey ash colour. The Lumbox would begin to grow slight tusks and secondary and tertiary mandible structures as well as, most unusual of all, would begin scavenging meat from the Greels' kills. It would remain like this for two weeks, gorging itself until it became obese and nearly unable to move, whereupon the researchers realized they were about to witness the birth of an Ash Greel. The Lumbox-Ash Greel relationship was actually parent and child, not some odd one-sided symbiosis.
The transformation is noted as being brutal and bloody. The creature triples in size over the course of a single day. The limbs extend and the mutated tendons push themselves out of the skin in the first, forming membrane over themselves but leaving odd holes in the legs. Finally, and most painfully, the membranes on the creature's face begin to split. Over time, the creature's skull will rip itself the Ash Greel's signature 4-way jaw and the Lumbox's yellow eye will grow over into a sensory membrane. Adult Ash Greel's must bring food to the freshly transformed Ash Greels immediately or they will not live. The transformation leaves the Ash Greel too weak to properly hunt for two days, after which it will begin hunting for itself, and shortly thereafter will search for a mate. Male Ash Greels are solitary, leaving the female Ash Greel's to look after the Lumbox. If a male Ash Greel attempts to approach the immatured Lumbox, the female will often attack, and sometimes kill, the male.
Here's a lightened up version, since I realized that on most monitors the above is stupidly high contrast.