Smirking Soriparasite

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Smirking Soriparasite
(Dakosorex carnificus)
Artwork of Smirking Soriparasite
Species is extant.
Creator OviraptorFan Other
Dakosorex carnificus
Week/Generation 26/163
Habitat Darwin Tropical Rainforest, Darwin Temperate Rainforest, Darwin Temperate Woodland, Vivus Temperate Rainforest, Darwin Chaparral
Size 10 centimeters long
Support Unknown
Diet Hemophagus, Carnivore (Parasitic(Rainforest Phlock, Goliath Flunejaw, Shellcrusher Flunejaw, Stiltshell, Rainforest Flunejaw, Nagraj, Treehook Tamow, Argeiphlock, Hornboss, Cryptic Hornface, Scrubland Hornface, Twigfisher Shrog, Varant, Striped Phlock, Snoofloo, Shroom Herder, Mothhead, Skewer Shrog), Predatory(Shrubrattus, Handlicker Dundi, Gamergate Gundis))
Respiration Active (Lungs)
Thermoregulation Ectotherm (Basking)
Reproduction Sexual (Male and Female, Live Birth, Milk)

As the lazarus soriparasite thrived, they would occasionally land on arguably the most abundant kingdom of fauna around, the plents. The “blood” from plents was different from those of the carpozoans in a few minor aspects but it was relatively similar enough for the lazarus soriparasite to digest it. The one major problem with plent blood is the relative lack of iron, which meant lazarus soriparasites that only fed on plent blood would suffer from iron deficiency anemia. The tissues of plants, however, was filled with iron and could stand as a decent substitute but the mouth anatomy of lazarus soriparasites were built to hold onto a host and suck blood and not slice off bits of flesh. Still, the relatively abundant food source and relatively little competition of major size was a big temptation, and so the ancestors of the smirking soriparasite would evolve to take advantage of such a common type of prey.

To feed on the skin of plants, the smirking soriparasite had to make some important changes in its mouth anatomy. The biggest change is the smirking soriparasite regaining 8 total teeth on the lower jaw. 8 teeth in the back of the upper jaw and the teeth on the lower jaw are also very different from its ancestors. Unlike the teeth at the front of the upper jaw which still act as hooks for their normal suction feeding strategy, those 16 teeth at the back of the mouth have become sharp blades adapted to shear through meat. Such teeth have no assistance with getting blood and would even act as a minor handicap if they were at the front of the mouth for their suction feeding. This is why the smirking soriparasite has the back teeth poke outside of the mouth at an angle where they intersect with one another. This goes hand-in-hand with their ability to fully close the mouth, which has not been seen in this lineage after the bloodshrew, because of their second method of feeding.

Close up of face when mouth is closed.

To get the iron they need from plants, the smirking soriparasite will press the sides of their face against the skin and use their back teeth to slice off strips of skin that are then swallowed whole. To help with this feeding strategy, the shoulder joint has gained increased flexibility to make it more comfortable for the smirking soriparasite to twist its neck at a relatively awkward angle. After feeding on the skin, smirking soriparasites often press their lips against the already made wound and deploy their suction feeding method to get blood. The whole time, the anesthetic compounds found in its saliva prevent the host from feeling a thing.

While the smirking soriparasite also feeds on carpozoan blood, they generally have to contend with the lazarus soriparasite whose dentition is much better suited to only feed on blood which thus tends to result in smirking soriparasites being more uncommon on carpozoans. On the flip-side, the smirking soriparasites adaptations to slice off bits of skin on plents gives it a distinct advantage over its ancestor on this specific group of hosts. This results in relative niche partitioning between the two species, although smirking soriparasites are common on both carpozoans and plents in areas where their ancestor is absent.

A smirking soriparasite using the side of its mouth to feed on the skin of a hornboss.

Their adaptations to feeding on plents has come with a few side benefits, however, as their more flexible shoulder joints makes traveling on the ground between hosts significantly easier. On their treks between hosts, smirking soriparasites may also come across plents that are relatively similar in size to them, which presents them with an opportunity they could not exploit without their adaptations. When they come across something like a gamergate gundi or a shrubrattus, they will try to ambush them and then use their flexible forelimbs to restrain the prey item. Once it is subdued, the smirking soriparasite will use their back teeth, but to kill rather than to parasitize. Killing the small plent provides the smirking soriparasite a relatively large meal which can allow them significantly more time to find a host thanks to the huge amount of energy.

The smirking soriparasite only has one pair of fully-functioning eyes, though the other two ancestral pairs are still present, just reduced. It can still sense light through these tiny vestigial eyes, but only the largest pair can form images. Its hooked foreclaws and gecko-like feet bearing fuzzy setae allow it to hold onto its host without falling off. Just like its ancestors but unlike most other modern shrews, the smirking soriparasite lacks a pouch; when not nursing, its young may climb on its back to let their siblings have room to nurse instead. It usually mates during the treks it makes between hosts. It is still able to tolerate low temperatures while sucking blood, but it needs to warm up to travel at a decent speed, so it may also be found basking on rocks between hosts.