The Murky River Flat Ridged River Ray
Watching by the riverfront he could see them, about a half a dozen Flat Ridged River Rays. A frequent site along the river, they casually bobbed up and down in the dark water of the river, flowing downstream at about the pace of a horses trot. They were odd creatures, about the length and width of a wagon but much flatter. A man in a thick hide saddle sat atop each guiding them along to their next destination. Just below the surface of the water, you could see large bags, casually trailing underneath them, tied on to the creatures hook-like ridges. He wondered what was for trade today. He continued to watch them as they passed, watching these beasts of burden conduct their daily work.
Anatomy and MorphologyThe Murky River Flat Ridger River Ray are large roughly disc-shaped aquatic creatures. They have a wide circular body that is mostly flat on top and have up to a dozen hook-shaped bony ridges protruding from their undersides. The rays torso ends with two large wing-shaped appendages on either side that allow it to glide effortlessly through the water. These wings also act as a defense mechanism when the ray is threatened, beating the murky mud below the surface to create a smokescreen in-between itself and any potential predators. The rays head is slightly curved and has a set of four beady eyes along the top with a half dozen small sensory slits sitting alongside them. These are used to great effect, as they have the ability to gauge the currents flow in the river and will warn the ray of any potential threats or obstacles within the murky water. They have a long whiplike tail, that can grow up to 4 feet long. These tails have a paralytic poison secreting from the tip; if a predator is struck with one it could become completely unable to move. And will sink to the bottom of the river defenceless against any other potential dangers in the river. The Flat Ridged River Ray comes in several colours and patterns though all are murky and dark. Common colourations are a muddy brown with tan spots, a solid deep burgundy, or a dark forest green with olive stripes. These are not the most pleasant creatures to touch or smell, as they secrete a slimy acrid smelling ooze. This secretion allows them to move quickly through the water. It also feels and tastes horrible, creating an additional deterrent for any predator attempting to eat it.
Reproduction and Biological CycleDomesticated river rays are breed in large tribunes that branch off from the main river. River rays mate only a couple times of the year, and gestation takes up to three months. After which a spawn of up to thirty is born. At this stage they are very small, up to a dozen of them can fit in a handful. Over the next two months, they will grow to a size roughly comparable to a wagon wheel. At this point, there training begins and lasts up until they are a year old. They are taught to be comfortable in and around humanoids and to obey their commands as best they can. This includes riding training, preparing the rays to wear saddles and carry human riders. By the time they are a year old they are much larger in size and can easily carry hundreds of pounds of weight. Once they are grown and trained they can be purchased by permanent owners and shipped out to the main river. Here their new owner will work on getting them familiar with the main trade river and the increased flow of traffic. This typically takes a few weeks to months to accomplish. By the time they are a year and a half old they are fully trained and will work the rest of their lives working the trade currents of the river with their owners. Non-domesticated river rays prefer to breed in shallow waters and dig pits in the muddy floor of the river to lay their spawn. The parents will typically stay in the area for the next several weeks protecting their young until they are grown large enough to venture out on their own. From there they are left to wander the grand river systems of the jungle. These native rays can live up to twenty years old, while the domesticated population live shorter harder lives and typically live to an average age of twelve.
Conservation Status and DomesticationThe Flat Ridged River Ray is plentiful in the rivers of the Jungles of Mijhail. The largest population of these rays are found in the Murky River; the jungles primary trade route. This is because the rays are bred in high numbers and domesticated in order to act as trade vehicles and beasts of burden. When born they receive vigorous training so that they will obey their masters, who purchase them from one of the dozens of breeding tribunes found branching off of the main river. After being purchased they are led back down these branched rivers to the main trade river. Here they are trained further by their owner so that they become familiar with the larger river system and its increased traffic flow. After sufficient training, they are set to work. Each ray has a special harness fastened to its back, this is where their owner or handler will sit and direct them up and down the river. Unless it carries no cargo, no more than one person can ride the ray at a time. In order for the rays to carry cargo, special waterproof bags are fastened to the bony hooks found underneath their bodies. The bags are filled with a variety of goods bound for trade at locations along the river.
HabitatThe Flat Ridged River Ray prefers the murky waters and rivers of the Jungles of Mijhail, in which it is native to. The increasingly rare non-domestic ray enjoys floating near the bottom of the rivers, lounging on the muddy bottom for hours on end. Their domestic brethren share a similar trait and are often found resting on the river floor near the trading docks. They are naturally sedated creatures but due to their domesticated work, they don’t get to rest often.
Dietary Needs and HabitsThey prefer to feed on the small river fish and crustaceans, and thick vine-like vegetation that grows on the muddy floor of the Murky River. Catching pieces of morsels in their wide rectangular mouth, they grind down their food with their coarse squared teeth that sit in rows. In captivity they are feed numerous times of time, being thrown buckets of semi ground-up fish meat and vegetation. This has created an excitable domesticated creature that is extremely motivated by food.
20 years naturally, up to 12 years in captivity
2 - 3 ft.
350 - 500 lbs.
12 - 15ft. Circumference