Skyshells

((Unless stated, all images displayed on this world are made by me, Chrispy_0))

Article Contents

Skyshells are a genera of Hanging Jelly native to two continents including Kenerif, characterized by the hardened shells on the top of their bodies. While many are no larger than a balloon, some species make up colossal floating islands up to 20 meters across and can even support the weight of several adult Regalti. Some fall back to the ground or ocean and keep growing. The largest specimen ever found still lives near the Void Lagoon and measures nearly 300 meters across and has the appearance of an unusual hill.

Etymology and Classification

The scientific classification for all Collena lifeforms uses the similar Earth-based classification all the way to the family or genera level for quick familiarization. Skyshells are Medusozoa because they have distinct polyp and medusa stages of life, and are Scyphozoa because they are considered 'true jellyfish'. They are Discomedusa due to their similar bell structures. Cael Concha is Latin for 'Sky Shell'.

Of the two Vevari words to describe skyshells, both have Rock or 'Alm' in the word. Yoralmi translates to "Sky Rock", and Goralm translates to "Stinging Rock". The Fevarik Regalti are very familiar with several varieties of skyshell.

Evolution

Sky Shells broke off from the Scyphozoa class around 200 million years ago like other hanging jellies from other classes of Medusozoa. Able to easily survive on land thanks to the extinction of arthropods, terrestrial jellyfish of the class Scyphozoa became lighter than air. Unlike the related class of Hydrozoa that stayed relatively close to the ground, Sky shells floated much higher in the sky, up to thousands of meters in the air.

Their hard shells are an adaptation against the talons of flying animals from the time, back when early birds still flew and flying reptiles were everywhere. In time as the sizes of these creatures grew ever larger, so did the size of their shells. They became large enough to support entire ecosystems and due to the hunting habits of Sky Shells, many unwittingly picked up flightless animals into the skies where they evolved into entirely different creatures not seen anywhere near the ground.

Conservation Status:
No Concern

No Concern.png

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Subphylum: Medusozoa
Class: Scyphozoa
Order: Discomedusae
Family: Caelmedusae
Genera: Cael Concha

Common Name(s):
Skyshell (Common)
Yoralmi (Vevari)
Goralm (Vevari)
Flying Jellies (Human)

Geographic distribution

Characteristics

The defining feature that all skyshells have in common is that the bell structure has mostly evolved a hardened shell, specifically the mesoglea, a normally soft, spongry structure found in aquatic jellyfish. Despite being a hard shell, it is actually extraordinarily light, being very similar in structure to silica based aerogels. A network of interconnecting passageways fill this substance with hydrogen, made from the creature's own metabolic processes.

Older skyshells have a higher helium content in their shells than hydrogen, slowly gathered throughout their long lives, making them less likely to explode if struck by lightning. The shell is more flexible towards the outer edges and can even be manually contracted and expanded by the creature, which allows it to shrug off predators or reposition itself in the air.
The underside of a skyshell is what you would expect of a true jellyfish. It has a mouth in the center as well as various sensory organs and tentacles. Some skyshells are almost entirely composed of the bell structure with a tiny mouth and stomach at the center. Others have hundreds to thousands of tentacles and sensory organs and a mouth that could engulf a fully grown Regalti.

Ecology

While Skyshells have wandered all over the world, being endless carried around on air currents, the immature polyp stage of their lifecycle seems to only grow in specific parts of the world, mainly on the continents of Kenerif and Tareth.

Generally skyshells do not have a major impact on terrestrial ecosystems since they float so high in the sky. In fact, they tend to create their own ecosystems wherever they are. Layers of dirt stick to their outer shells and different types of plants, even trees, will grow on top of them. Animals as large as Galin (about the size of a house cat) can be seen living on them. Generally though, the plants and creatures found living on the tops of skyshells are quite small, often experiencing a form of insular dwarfism. There are several dimunitive species of Chirodans, specifically Tronodons, that live on skyshells, though there are two examples of Leodons as well. They will glide or jump between their sky islands, catching Cloud Flowers, small lizards, and other animals to eat once they land.

Different species of skyshell have different hunting habits. Some will just float in the sky, covering their tentacles in a sticky substance that catches passing cloud flowers, or, less lucky animals. Then nutrients from the creature is absorbed over the next several weeks until nothing is left but bones, which will fall off the skyshell and fall to the ground, somtimes hitting unsupecting Regalti on the head. There are several Fevarik legends that attempt to explain these falling bones.

For the ones that actively hunt, they do so by controlling their altitude, moving the air in their shells around to go higher and lower. This allows them to catch prey quicker but it does expend more energy. Some Skyshells will fall all the way to the ground, opening their mouths wide. whatever gets caught, usually small mouse sized lizards, birds, mammals, etc. gets repeatedly stung to death and digested. The skyshells will also digest plant matter. They will stay there on the ground for several days to months, and then gradualy float back in the air to find a new spot to land. Usually bones are left behind, but some are stuck on the creature for several months before they fall off.

Finding the lost

Fevarik myths tell that the twin Goddesses of the Sun and Moon, Vala and Sevi, take turns during the day and night, wandering the darkness of the void, looking for lost Regalti souls of the previous worlds to ferry back to paradise. Ocasionally they will find the souls of animals as well. By edict of the god Ventar, Vala will not take non-Regalti to paradise.

Sevi has a soft spot for animals though, and takes their bodies with her back from the void. Every time she does this, she has to cast away the animal's bones back to Collena so her sister doesn't notice. It was believed by early Fevarik that when the bones of an animal fell out of the sky, it was from Sevi hiding her work from her sister. Parents use this story to comfort their children after a pet dies, saying that the Moon Goddess is watching over them.

Status and Conservation

Most species of skyshell are not well studied but they occur in such high concentrations in parts of the world that scientists believe that the creatures are in no immediate danger of going extinct. This was not always the case.

In the past, the shells of the creatures were highly coveted, being ultra tough, fireproof, ultra light, and more. The creatures that were low enough to the ground were shot out of the sky and their shells were made into various objects including armor and vehicles. Skyshell shells were even used as the outer skin for early Regalti aircraft, and layered sections were used for military vehicles. As a Material, many things were made from it.

This led to the destruction of entire ecosystems. Early scientists raised alarm over this, and eventually, long after skyshells became quite scarce, regulations were put in place that prevented hunting these creatures unless specific circumstances were met. Now far into the space age, Regalti don't even pay attention to them anymore, allowing these flying jellies to reclaim their entire habitat.

The only real threats to these creatures now are Cloud Flower superblooms, which can attach to the jellyfish's underside in mass and weigh it down, dragging it all way to the ground. If it happens to land in an unlucky spot, it can't get back up until it digests all the flowers attached to it. If it isn't flat on the ground, passing animals will almost certainly get a free meal by eating the soft body.

Relationship with Regalti

As said, Regalti don't even pay attention to them anymore, but they do pose several hazards. They need to be cleared out of airports and spaceports due to collision hazards, and by regulation, Regalti aircraft can't fly between 1000 and 2000 meters off the ground in some areas due to the concentration of these skyshells.

There's also the issue of unaware children playing in fields, accidentally getting covered by a descending skyshell. Skyshells tend to float back upwards if they sense larger animals or Regalti because their delicate undersides can be easily torn apart. A child is easily strong enough to force the creature off of them, but the stinging hazard is the most dangerous part, as some Regalti are allergic to jellyfish venom. These children are usually identified early and all terrestrial Regalti are at least somewhat educated on the dangers of these creatures.

The largest Skyshell ever recorded is still alive, and forms the centerpiece of the Void Lagoon National Park in Southeastern Vefaria. This creature was thought to be a hill at first. A mining expedition quickly cleared that up when Regalti broke through the outer layer of dirt and rock, broke into the shell, and entered a purple fleshy cave of horrors. People were utterly baffled at this, not thinking it was a skyshell at first. The 'Flesh-Hill' was an attraction all its own until it was realized it was a living creature. Afterwards, the cave was sealed. While people can still climb the creatures back, digging is not allowed.

The creature measures 300 meters across and its shell is about 100 meters tall. Trees grow on top of it and if not for the signs, you would never even know it was there. Its tentacles form a primitive root system that goes into the waters of the Void lagoon and surrounding land.
by Chrispy_0/Artbreeder

Articles under Skyshells



Cover image: Haeckel-Chrysaora-hysoscella by Ernst Haeckel

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
3 Dec, 2021 19:05

Gods I love the detail in this. The effort you put in is astounding! Great work

7 Jan, 2022 12:41

The level of detail in this article is astonishing. Many Wikipedia articles are less thorough, and it was a great pleasure to delve into a whole lot of information. I can tell much thought and research have been put in the making!   The beginning with the etymology and the sidebar had me hooked and I wasn't disappointed :D The idea of giant jellyfishes up in the sky feels only logical after all, considering their morphology.   I'm just curious about one thing: You said some may grow trees on their hardened shell, are some of them able to do it in the air? And won't the expanding roots kill the skyshell?   Excellent work, I'm looking forward to read more :D

7 Jan, 2022 15:23

Thanks for the kind words!   On the tree roots, there's a couple ways to approach the issue that I haven't fully thought of yet (there is an article about the "sky meadow" ecosystem is being worked on, but its a work in progress). I'll share some notes from what I have on the plants::  

  • The first is that there are varieties of trees on Earth that have shallow root systems that grow almost parallel with the ground, so the same would be possible on Collena. The trees would grow partially into the shells and the layer of dirt on top, but not enough to harm the skyshell. Evolution would favor the trees that don't violate the skyshell because if the skyshell dies, the tree (or any other plant) will also likely die.
  • The second is in the article already, called Insular Dwarfism, where things get smaller as the ecosystem gets smaller. Plants usually experience Island Gigantism instead, but some are smaller.
  • There's a few other things too, like tree lines in colder climates making trees closer to that line have stunted growth (most skyshells do hover quite high off the ground). There's a lot of plants that can grow on bare rock without soil too. I'm not sure where I'm going to end up yet.
  • 13 Jan, 2022 16:55

    What a fun article to read, the detail and the scope of these flying jellyfish is quite a breathtaking thing to behold. Nicely done.

    May you forever find your way on the journey you set out on and make yourself greater.
    The Sagas world cover
    15 Jan, 2022 01:34

    Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!

    Starfarertheta
    Starfarer Theta
    29 Jan, 2022 14:14

    A lot of aspects were considered here and they were addressed well. Good article.   What do skyshells do when a thunderstorm rolls by? Do they find shelter or do they somehow move out of the way?

    29 Jan, 2022 15:06

    Thanks for the like and comment!   The Thunderstorm thing...I did not think that far ahead yet. In the article, I described the older specimens as replacing the hydrogen in their bodies with helium so they are less likely to explode if struck by lightning. Another possibility that isn't described yet is they can possibly sense the pressure changes in the weather and simply descend to the ground before a storm. I need to think about this part more. Thanks for the question.