The Xib Zjhar (ksɪb ʐäɹ, also called "shells") are a species of shelled invertebrate sophonts from the planet Xiilu Qam in the 36 Ophiuchi system. The Xib Zjhar are highly reclusive, remaining almost exclusively within their very small colonial network and refusing virtually all contact with other species. They are not a member of the United Spacefaring Sophonts Council -one of only two sophont species in known space who are not USSC members. They are also one of the oldest extant sophont species, having ancestrally interacted with the skgri'i.
Anatomy & Morphology
Xib Zjhar are polymorphic shelled dodecapods, possessing a segmented shell-like exoskeleton that can either curl into a spiral shape or unfurl to a straight, almost blade-like flattened cone. The open end of the shell has a wide, crescent-shaped plate to protect the soft body of the creature, whose beaked mouth, eyestalks, and twelve tentacles emerge from the chitinous shell. Xib Zjhar are unique among known sophonts in that their vascular oxygen carrier is chlorocruorin, an iron-based protein that turns light green when oxidized. Chlorocruorin is rather inefficient and easily damaged by carbon monoxide, rendering the shells one of just three known sophont species susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Xib Zjhar can walk terrestrially on their tentacles under gravity up to ~6 m/s2, but since they are dependent on internal gills for breathing, their spacecraft are typically filled with water. This allows them to move about much faster: they jet-propel themselves with their spiracles in a manner similar to terragenid molluscs.
Perception & Sensory Capabilities
VisualXib Zjhar are highly visual sophonts, having unique triocular vision facilitated by three compound eyes with millions of tiny crystalline lenses. These eyes are sensitive to a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum, from infrared all the way to high-frequency ultraviolet. Color is a critical part of Xib Zjhar written language, which is why other species struggle to read it.
AuditoryXib Zjhar have considerably worse hearing than other known sophont species, though they are still capable of discerning auditory input. Their auditory sense is facilitated by a pair of statocysts; small, sac-like internal organs containing a mineralized mass and lined with sensitive filaments.
Geographic Origin & DistributionXib Zjhar are found in only three star systems: 36 Ophiuchi (their home system), Gliese 667, and 70 Ophiuchi. They do not leave this small region of space for any reason, barring a major catastrophe. The reasoning behind their reclusivity is not known, but scholars strongly suspect it to be the result of cultural memory regarding the ancient war between the skgri'i and their mysterious enemies.
Habitat & Survival FactorsThough they can operate out of water for extended periods of time thanks to internal water storage chambers, the Xib Zjhar are highly dependent on water for their survival as it is their primary medium of respiration. Xib Zjhar are quite technologically adaptable, and thus they will manage to survive if given an environment with liquid water of appropriate dissolved oxygen content.
- Scientific Name
- Xenorthus sapiens
- Average Height
- 1 meter (curled shell, standing)
- Average Weight
- 80 kilograms
- Average Length
- 2.5 meters (uncurled shell)