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March 26
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A Bounty of Basal Amphisbaenae by TheSeaLemon A Bounty of Basal Amphisbaenae by TheSeaLemon
Some creatures from the rattler homeworld, known by humans as Vishnu. Wall of text time! 

The world Vishnu is a relatively low gravity moon with a thick, vapor filled atmosphere which orbits the significantly more hostile super earth Lakshmi. Though Lakshmi may harbor microbial life, Vishnu is the only known planet in the system to harbor complex multicellular organisms. 

Most all animal-like organisms from Vishnu are actually descended from highly sophisticated, haploid plant larva that began to exhibit neoteny (carrying juvenile characteristics into adulthood), and filled in traditionally animal inhabited niches in the wake of cataclysmic mass extinction early in the planet's history. As such, the vast majority of these creatures carry photosynthetic cells along their backs which help synthesize vital nutrients not found in their diet. All plant-derived "animals" belong to the kingdom Phytozoa.

These particular pytozoans are organisms from the phylum Amphisbaena, sometimes classified as a subphylum within the larger group Simulaphora, to which rattlers belong. Both Amphisbaena and Simulaphora are comprised of organisms which are, in actuality, colonial colonies or genets. Each section of the organism is an individual phytozoan, specialized to perform specific tasks and unable to survive without the rest of its genet. 

In amphisbaenae, the entire genet is comprised of only two individual sections, aligned back to back and each with a fully functional head. Each segment has its own digestive tract, respiratory system, and reproductive system, though the nervous and circulatory systems are shared. Amphisbaenae possess basket like skeletal systems and a primitive spinal chord, and have three sensory palps and rudimentary eyes on each head. 

Pictured here are three classes of more basal amphisbaenae, able to move in either direction. Not to scale.

Top Left
Woolly Pillviper: Belonging to class Pilulaserpens, or pill snakes. The woolly pillviper is often found feeding on plant leafs, and has specialized it's photosynthetic integument into a coat of tough spines to deter predators. Its sensory palps are coated in irritating bristles. Like most pill snakes, the woolly pillviper has a muscular foot on its underside with which it moves.

Top Middle
Jeweled Needle: Belonging to class Pilulaserpens. Jeweled Needles are more derived pill snakes, and have specialized their sensory  palps into stiff, venomous spikes. The whip like tendrils on either side of their bodies also secrete a toxic substance. These tiny predators hunt down the Vishuvian equivalent of insects. 

Top Right
Skullworm: Belonging to class Toruiscipios, also known as nunchuck snakes. Skullworms are more serpentine organisms that often worm their way through leaf litter to capture smaller invertebrate prey. They have a single specialized sensory palp, from which they can secrete a potent venom. Skullworms have been known to kill unwary human researchers with this substance.  

Middle Left 
Resplendent Pillsnake: Belonging to class Pilulaserpens. Resplendent pillsnakes are gentle herbivores, known for their humorous mating dances involving bobbing their elongated middle sensory palps while rotating on their gummy foot. 

Bloorm: Belonging to class Toruiscipios. Probably a corruption of "blue worm", bloorms are a very common species of nunchuck snakes. This cosmopolitan creature is very resistant to dry conditions and is an adept scavenger. 

Middle Right 
Leather-backed Slug: Belonging to class Calceuserpens, or boot snakes (due to their looking like a footprint). These aquatic amphisbaenae are fairly archetypal for the phylum, commonly found grazing on algae like organisms. Like pill snakes, Calceuserpens have a single muscular foot. 

Sunrise Serpent: Belonging to the class Toruiscipios. These large nunchuck snakes are considerably passive detrivores, eating detritus that finds its way to the forest floor. When threatened they thrash about much like an earthworm. Considering that they spend most of their time covered in dirt and leafs, it is unknown why they sport such prominent coloration

End text wall.
The sunrise serpent is actually inspired by a drawing of a real life amphisbaenia, or worm lizard, that I saw somewhere. Sometime I'll upload a more detailed anatomy sheet for these critters. 
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Zippo4k Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2014
Bizarre and beautiful. These are excellent alien invertebrates. I particularly adore the beautiful Sunrise Serpent.

I must digress though with an inquiry: You mention that both ends serve as functional heads and have their own digestive tracts. Where to they excrete theirs wastes? What is the benefit of having a head at either end of the body? Is only one head dominant at a time? Do they share a "brain" (You mention they share a nervous system)?
I ask these not to antagonize just to find out what your thoughts are. ;)
TheSeaLemon Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
No antagonization perceived! I love questions, especially when they get me to pull out my note sheet on the critters involved! :D 

Amphisbaena don't have a dominant head, but they do have "brains". Clusters of nerves at either end help them process sensory information, which they then send to shared brain-like nodes at the center of the organism. The nodes serve to process more complex joint information, allowing the organism to figure out the best way to move towards food or a mate. Simpler tasks like moving away from negative stimuli are managed by their simpler joint nervous system. Processing the joint information can take a bit longer in larger amphisbaena, so it isn't always the most efficient process. 

They excrete waste at the middle of their bodies where the tissue of both parts meet; they have two anuses there for each digestive tract. Some more advanced species have one hole that both intestines join to, and the less snake-like species tend to move in a whirling pattern after excreting to avoid contaminating the mouth and gills of their other head. Some of the rounder ones will even inch sideways as their main mode of movement.

Amphisbaena evolved from aquatic grazers and scavengers, so having two heads allowed them to consume food faster. In snake-like amphisbaena the two heads are more a remnant of their evolutionary history than a specific benefit... they can change direction and eat faster than their one headed counterparts, but take a bit longer to react to situations which is why you won't find any amphisbaenae megafauna. There are some more compact aquatic ones that superficially resemble water boatmen which get more of a benefit... they are agile swimmers that don't have to spend as much time processing joint information and can evade predation by changing direction unexpectedly. 

Hopefully that's enough/not too much info. I'm glad you enjoy them! 
Tarturus Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The concept of a world where most of the "animals" are actually "plants" is quite a fascinating one. ^^
Clawedfrog Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014
Great concepts! I love the colors on the sunrise serpent! By the way, how would these guys complete their digestion if they have mouthparts on both ends?
TheSeaLemon Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aww, thanks!
They're almost like two twins stuck together, so even though their circulatory and nervous systems are connected their digestive systems are not. Most species have each of their digestive tracts stop at the middle of the animal.
More derived ones have the intestines run all the way to the other twin's head, where they secrete concentrated waste as a defense.
Fluffysminion Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the idea, and the designs are wonderful.
Transapient Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Fascinating!  Absolutely brilliant design.  :)

"Evolve and Grow." -- the Universe
thomastapir Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
GWAH, fore-and-aft bicephalization?!??!! Those are one, two, or three of my favorite things, depending upon how you look at them!!

My favorite is the Leather-backed Slug, I can definitely see the gumboot chiton pedigree here.  I love that squishy diagonal seam bisecting the body--it makes me imagine the two sections disengaging, perhaps as a form of reproductive fission?  Surely not what you intended, but I can't resist.  : D

Incidentally, I think we have discovered the phyletic origins of Space Harrier's "Amar" Boss!…
Now we just need to explain his apparent talent for antigravity.  : p
TheSeaLemon Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you :D
Two headed things make me happy. And you caught me red handed... chitons are some of my favorite critters! Hmmm... now I wonder if less derived species would be able to regrow their segments if separated from their other half! It could probably work, since starfish can go to even bigger extremes. Them crazy echinoderms.

And this link made my day haha! Unfortunately Space Harrier was a little bit before my time, but this still cracked me up ;)
Cm25 Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
How does the Jeweled Needle move? It looks more like a barnacle than some of the other Amphisbaenae.
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