The Meiouks are microscopic ukfauna of the genus Meioukus, which includes some of the smallest ukfauna to ever live. Shrinking below the scale of even a millimeter, the majority of species aren’t easily visible to the naked eye, particularly since their bodies are transparent like those of terran meiofauna. To adapt to life at such a tiny scale, a few changes had to be made to their bodies.
At their scale, the border between terrestrial and aquatic is blurred. To navigate an environment where any moisture is like an ocean of honey, Meiouks have transformed their tail hands into three long whip-like tails derived from fingers which beat like flagella to propel them around. Little change was needed for their respiratory or reproductive systems, as their passive respiration through their skin and their tiny shelless eggs allows them to obtain oxygen just as well from water as from air. At such a small scale their eyesight does not allow them to see very far in clear resolution, but proportional to their size they are able to see their environment surprisingly well, due in part to their eyes simply being enormous.
The Meiouks have developed a retractable “lip” which serves to help them feed and protect their now greatly enlarged mouth. Food, such as cells, detritus, meat, or their fellow meiofauna, is gripped with the lip, which protracts and retracts to push it against the knife-like tooth. This allows them to cut up their food without using their limbs, which may be occupied with holding the meal in place or keeping them from being pushed apart by currents. Meiouks retain their ancestors’ parental care. They produce large round bundles of eggs which they will try to defend from any potential predators such as large cells.
There are thousands of species of Meiouks, though they vary little aside from size and dietary proportions. This is due in part to the fact that any moisture at all is enough for them to thrive in. They are also able to handle harsh conditions thanks to being derived from ice-dwelling ancestral stock. They retain access to antifreeze proteins, allowing them to survive the cold, and additionally developed the ability to lie dormant should all water be frozen; this ability is retained in all species, including desert species, allowing them to wait out dry spells.