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(Tumescaeus elisiumipenna)
Artwork of Srugeing-of-Paradise
Species is extant.
Creator Nergali Other
Tumescaeus elisiumipenna
Week/Generation 26/164
Habitat Maineiac Temperate River, Maineiac Salt Marsh, Maineiac Temperate Riparian
Size 20 cm Wingspan
Diet Adults: Nothing; Juveniles: Carnivorous (Maineiac Bubblepede larvae, Flashfin Gilltail juveniles, Scraperbeak Gilltail juveniles, Pruning Gilltail juveniles, Dwarf Maineiac Gilltail juveniles, Toothbrush Arthrofin larvae, Scorpodile larvae, Riparian Scorpodile larvae, Finback larvae, Mistswarmers larvae, Miniswarmers, Minifee, Scuttlers, Frabukis, Minikruggs)
Respiration Adult: Semi-Active (Gill Lung); Juvenile: Semi-Active (Ram Gill)
Thermoregulation Heterotherm (Adult); Ectotherm (Young)
Reproduction Sexual, Spawning in Water, Two Sexes
Descendant of Ancestor of

Splitting from its ancestor, the srugeing-of-paradise has further adapted to life on the continent of Maineiac. Inhabiting the various ponds, streams, and rivers that are to be found within the landmass's warmer regions, their lifecycle has remained relatively unchanged compared to that of the srugeing: the majority of their lifespan is spent in an aquatic juvenile state, after which they will take flight in search of new water sources within which they may reproduce. Such a lifestyle, though seemingly simple, has helped to reduce interspecies competition as well as competition with other species of gilltails.

The juvenile srugeing-of-paradise is a quite a colorful species of gilltail, and for good reason. As they fan their fins, reveal their bold hues and dash about in the open waters, they are in fact advertising to any would-be predator that their flesh is toxic and that they are not good to eat. This toxin, however, is not of a deadly sort. Instead, the toxin causes those that would consume it to be overcome with a severe sense of noxiousness. The srugeing-of paradise does not produce this toxin itself, for instead it is the end result of a diet rich in several species of tiny freshwater minifee that inhabit the waters they call home. These minifee produce a much milder form of the toxin as a defensive mechanism, but juvenile srugeing-of-paradise are immune to it, and so it instead builds up in their flesh and organs until it reaches a far more potent state.

Physically, juvenile srugeing-of-paradise closely resemble the juveniles of the vaste majority of other gilltail species. It is only as fall approaches do they begin to undergo morphological changes that prepare them for adulthood, the most prominent of which involves their respiratory system. Relying on the traditional ram gill system for the majority of their lives, they slowly over the course of several weeks begin to transition to breathing air. As this occurs, the gill lungs they will utilize as adults will begin to grow in, and as they do so, the young srugeing-of-paradise will be compelled to breach the water's surface in order to take a gulp of air. While this doesn't replace their already present gill system, and they only need to surface every other hour or so, this supplement of gaseous oxygen, a substance normally forbidden to the water-bound gilltails, allows them to be much more energetic, which in turn gives them an advantage when it comes to hunting other, smaller prey, including the juveniles of other gilltails.

As winter comes and various pools, ponds, and even the edges of the great Maineaic River begin to freeze over, these juvenile gilltails will begin to undergo a process of transformation in preparation of the warmer months that will surely come once winter has ended. They will begin to burrow into the mud and form small cavities within it, after which they will secrete a thin layer of mucous and cocoon themselves within it, not unlike how some species of lungfishes of Earth do. As they await within their hidden burrows, they rely on their developing gill lungs to take in oxygen as their former gill exits are overgrown in flesh. During this time their pectoral fins begin to enlarge and strengthen in preparation for their first and final flight they will undertake once they emerge from the mud. It also at this time that their gonads begin to fully develop.

Once winter has ended and spring has arrived, the warmth of the sun will warm the mud and awaken the srugeing-of-paradise within, who will then squirm their way to the surface, dry off in the sun's light, and take flight. Compared to its ancestor, the srugeing-of-paradise is fairly similar in regards to overall morphology, with the only main differences being their much more vibrant coloration and enlarged fins. Males of this species have retained the prominent stripes on either side of their bodies, as they are primarily visual-based once they leave the water, and markings like this help to differentiate the sexes. Both sexes maintain their prominent beaks, though while they may now appear to be help agape, they are actually permanently placed like this. Adult srugeing-of-paradise have no need for functioning mouths - which now serve as yet another visual display - for they no longer possess a functioning digestive tract, instead relying on the stores of fat they gathered as juveniles while gorging on a protein-rich diet. They will inevitably starve within two to three days, during which, after they have already broken down their excess fat, will turn to breaking down their own muscles and organs in order to increase their odds of finding a new water source to spawn in, especially if the region is undergoing a drought or similar unfavorable conditions.

The mass flight of the srugeing-of-paradise is a colorful yet ultimately brief display. While thousands will take to the air - and in turn be gorged upon by whatever predators are about, for by this time their toxins have faded - they rarely live past a day. Too battered and bruised as their bodies break down from the strain placed upon them, once they have spawned they will be too tired to do so again and will instead drown in the waters the next generation to come will call home. But from this death, comes new life, as the waters become enriched in nutrients, which in turn feeds the plankton and those that feed upon it, producing a new source of food for the juveniles once they hatch.

A juvenile. *Note, this species bears a fleshy palate within their beaks, and this lineage has not evolved a tongue.