Liir Phenotypes

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Umbral Reaver
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Liir Phenotypes

Post by Umbral Reaver » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:06 am

How about a thread that's not about the recent release shenanigans for a change?

We have seen quite a variety of different kinds of liir in the concept art, in-game art and recently the 3D models of the Suul'Ka. Obviously, many of them are inspired by Earth cetaceans.

The most prominent differences appear to be:

* The number and placement of tentacles. Four seems to be the most common. I think I've seen six but I may be mistaken. In most cases they are positioned two above the mouth and two below, although some appear to have them attached to the trunk of the body. In most cases of artificial limbs such as powered armour, these are attached to pods positioned along the back, two each side of the spine. The Bloodweaver's mess doesn't count. D:

* Head shape varies considerably. Most young liir are depicted as dolphin or porpoise-like while elders are whale-like. There have been images of elders looking like both baleen whales and toothed whales and some that look more derived from dolphins, with the longer snout and prominent echolocation dome.

The Suul'Ka themselves vary considerably in phenotype and given that they arose from Muur separated by vast stretches of time, that may imply that the common traits of liir have drifted over time and that there are multiple distinct races of liir.

The easy answer is to attribute it to artistic license but I think it's far more interesting to ponder the reasons for the differences from an in-universe perspective. :D

To be clear: I don't want to take Erinys away from her work to answer these questions. I just think it's a very interesting piece of the setting to examine.

levi_Will
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by levi_Will » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:29 am

None of the suulka unarmored really have tentacles...

When tentacled, they each have six, except for the Kraken that has eight. I'm not sure if that means anything, or if im just wrong.
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WireWolf
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by WireWolf » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:26 am

Well given that some of the Suul'ka originated from 320,000 years at the time of the setting it's very possible the older Suul'ka have traits that vanished from Modern Liir.

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Golden Yak » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:54 am

A peek at the SOTS prime Liir avatars show noticeably different body-types among the liir - it isn't necessarily an example of full-on subspecies or divergent evolution, just liir born and raised in different seas of Muur.
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The Apprentice
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by The Apprentice » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:20 am

I agree it is interesting to ponder. Generally, don't Elder Liir switch to krill-type feeder feeding? I thought I'd read that in one of the lore forums. If correct, the Suul'ka appearing as toothed type whales means they altered themselves back towards a hunter variant.

Do all the Suul'ka we've seen appear as great toothed whales? I think they do.

The Black still appears as a baleen feeder, doesn't he? I think the Liir can obtain him somehow based on the posts at the paradox forums.
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Alganhar
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Alganhar » Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:28 pm

I have always found how Liir switch from toothed hunters to Baleen style filter feeders one of the more incongruous aspects of them.

Toothed and baleen feeding require not only different strategies, but also completely different skull morphologies. A good place to start is the fact the baleen filter is highly modified hair... not teeth. Baleen filter feeders also have huge mouths, and relatively narrow throats, they take the big gulp of water then squeeze the liquid out with their tongues (which are massive!) leaving just the wriggly goodness for them to swallow.

So, for Elder Liir... where do their teeth go? Where does the baleen style filter come from? How does their skull and jaw change so much without them actually starving to death while it happens? What happens to the Melon analogue (the echolocation dome)?

So much to ponder!

EDIT: @Umbral: Dolphins and Porpoises are not the only ones with the 'Melon'. Take a look at the Sperm Whale, much of that big blunt face is one huge echolocation unit. Enough that that fellow pumps out the loudest noise of any living organism.

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Formid » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:15 pm

Liir aren't actually cetaceans. They have no evolutionary link to dolphins or any Earth species. Any features are just convergent evolution. So while I see your general point, I don't think we can assume that their baleen filters are modified hair or anything as specific as that.

In any case, the general proportion of the mouth and throat at least can be solved by differential continuous growth, since Liir cells seem to be immortal. The tissues around the head and mouth may simply grow slightly faster than those of the throat, leading increasingly to a filter feeding adapted morphology. Although I'm sure the real life animal analogous functions are far more complicated than what I just said.

Yes, there is a sort of analogue in social insects with polymorphic castes. In ants (which are the hub of all my knowledge of gross biology) the larvae develops adult tissues and organs from regions of clumped precursor cells called imaginal discs. However, the imaginal discs that become the head and mandibles grow ever so slightly faster than the other imaginal discs. The longer the ant stays in larval form, the greater this disparity becomes. With constant feeding, the juvenile hormone secreted in the mandibular glands of the nurse workers suppresses the larva's metamorphosis longer than a larvae receiving less constant feeding, maximizing this difference. The result is a major or "soldier" worker, that while bigger all over than a standard worker, has a disproportionally large head and huge jaw muscles. This results in castes with great physical differences despite sharing roughly 3/4ths of their genetic code between sisters.

This quickly lost relevance and turned into a nerdy rant about ants. So basically this is like every post I've ever made. Sorry.

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Alganhar » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:26 pm

Its a bit different comparing the change of ants to something the size of a cetacean analogue. And yes, I do understand that they are Cetacean analogues, not true Cetaceans.

To put the point mildly, that Liir go from being toothed hunters, to baleen style feeders is one HELL of a trick of Phenotypic Plasticity. Much more than any organism of the same relative complexity on Earth goes through. It requires huge morphological changes, especially in the head area. To tell the truth, gut wise it shouldn't make *too* much difference as Baleen feeders are still predators, they just feed on smaller prey.

Fact is, doesn't really matter what the baleen style plates are made up of, the morphological differences required are not just large, they are vast. Baleen plates are a sieve, in effect, the mouth gape needs to be huge because the animal needs to hold a vast amount of water. Look at the Great White Shark compared to the Whale Shark... its the same... its like turning a Great White into a Whale Shark....

How the hell does it eat while that change is taking place?

Individual cells being immortal I do not buy, genetic material will always be damaged, for the continued health of the organism Cells lyasing is vital. Cell death is not an accident, it is a necessity. Effectively immortal individuals I can accept far more easily than immortal cells.

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by The Apprentice » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:42 pm

Hmm... The thing I keep in mind is that in this universe the Liir are capable of fiddling with DNA via their thoughts. Hence, great morphological changes being triggered over their lifespan doesn't seem out of place.

As far as food during the transformation (however long that is in time), the Elders are beloved/cared for by younger Liir. Them bringing/herding food towards the Elder seems entirely logical given the Lore.

(The Ant stuff was interesting.) I think, keeping in mind this is a created universe, the implications of an Elder going from filter feeding BACK to large prey could be interesting. Large prey are more likely to have higher thoughts/consciousness in most Sci-Fi. Pain.

So, does the switch back to large prey signal the onset of a WinterMindset- or is it just a part of the elder Liir life-cycle and the depths don't have filter feeding oppertunities on the scale they require?
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Formid
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Formid » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:06 pm

I don't think all the Suul'ka had sharp teeth, though?

Was it ever actually said the Liir can manipulate their own DNA with their minds? I know they're telekinetic. And I know they're great at biotech. But I never thought their skill at biotech stemmed from their telekinesis. If this is the case, why don't they just assassinate Suul'ka demeanored enemies of other species by giving them cancer? No one could say it's not a natural death.

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Formid
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Formid » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:12 pm

Alganhar wrote:Individual cells being immortal I do not buy, genetic material will always be damaged, for the continued health of the organism Cells lyasing is vital. Cell death is not an accident, it is a necessity. Effectively immortal individuals I can accept far more easily than immortal cells.

I meant immortal in the biological sense. Meaning their cells never reach senescence: the state where they're too damaged and/or aged to undergo more replication. Cells would still lyse and grow and divide and hit apoptosis, etc, and presumably have awesome repair mechanisms. They just wouldn't lose the ability to copy themselves. Or they'd at least have an infinitely replenishing supply of progenitor/stem cells.

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by levi_Will » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:18 pm

Formid wrote:I don't think all the Suul'ka had sharp teeth, though?

Was it ever actually said the Liir can manipulate their own DNA with their minds? I know they're telekinetic. And I know they're great at biotech. But I never thought their skill at biotech stemmed from their telekinesis. If this is the case, why don't they just assassinate Suul'ka demeanored enemies of other species by giving them cancer? No one could say it's not a natural death.

All the Suul'ka except for Bloodweaver and Cannibal have really sharp teeth. Bloodweaver used his body and made it into a mess... and cannibal is just a mouth and a stomach that shovels things into it. No idea about the usurper.

And just to add, since I'm not entirely sure about what's being talked about-- The suul'ka eat the life of a planet (biosphere) and the populace.
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Alganhar
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by Alganhar » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:19 pm

It is still a huge leap.

Let us disregard the cell issue and immortality issue for a moment.

We on Earth have two groups that have both toothed and baleen feeders. Sharks,the toothed being the like of great whites, most of the rays, bullsharks etc. They also have baleen type feeders, Whaleshark, Basking and the manta.

We also have toothed and baleen mammals,toothed being Sperm whale, Orca, your various dolphins and porpoises. Baleen being your Humpbacks and blues to name a few.

Both Fish and Mammals use both toothed and Baleen style feeding methods, both of which require hugely different morphologies.

Its a vast change going between the two.

Period.

Phenotypic Plasticity is defined a a Phenotypic change in response to an Environmental condition, there are several levels. Ontological Plasticity most of you are probably familiar with... the way a foetus goes from stage to stage. Many simple organisms are completely plastic... certain corals for example, many macrophytes (seaweeds... especially Fucoids and Laminaria). To assume a LARGE and highly intelligent organism is THAT plastic... well... hmm....

Not buying it... sorry.

I think they still have teeth... they just hide em!

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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by The Apprentice » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:54 pm

levi_Will wrote:
Formid wrote:I don't think all the Suul'ka had sharp teeth, though?

Was it ever actually said the Liir can manipulate their own DNA with their minds? I know they're telekinetic. And I know they're great at biotech. But I never thought their skill at biotech stemmed from their telekinesis.

All the Suul'ka except for Bloodweaver and Cannibal have really sharp teeth. Bloodweaver used his body and made it into a mess... and cannibal is just a mouth and a stomach that shovels things into it. No idea about the usurper.

And just to add, since I'm not entirely sure about what's being talked about-- The suul'ka eat the life of a planet (biosphere) and the populace.


@Formid: I recall a thread/lore entry that referred to the Liir in the Deacon's Tale healing the human protagonist via psychic surgery. Something to the effect of the ability to repair damage on the inter-cellular level (and the implications of such repair leading to a longer than normal life). That said, I be mus-remembering.

@levi: Right, once they enter space they switch to that type of feeding. I thought it was intersting in that we have pictures of Elders who use filter feeding, yet the Suul'ka are toothed. What was the Lore reason behind the switch?
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relisthain
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Re: Liir Phenotypes

Post by relisthain » Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:26 am

maybe the elders just use their powers to filter food into their mouths?

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