Though some scholars of natural study see Mudwings as distant relatives of soft-bodied, seabound animals, the average denizen of Greymantle Marsh considers them to be a unique set of creatures all to themselves--if they are to be considered at all. Most of the cultures that contribute to databases of written knowledge are entirely unaware of the existence of Mudwings, beyond the odd mention of puddles and depressions glimpsed across the surface of remote mudflats. The divots that mysteriously mar these otherwise pristine planes of mud are usually noted in literature as naturally-formed oddities, with only the rarest and most thorough of studies describing the depressions as living creatures themselves.
Mudwings can be observed in two states: ambulating and rooted. These states reflect the occilating nature of mudflats, where vast fields of mud and silt go through a constant cycle of either being exposed to the elements or entirely submerged under several feet of water. When the tides rise, the source of the Mudwings' name becomes apparent as the creatures rise from the mud and appear something like a cluster of long-feathered wings that slowly fly through the water. These "wings" are made of long, feathery-looking strands that are each individually mobile, slowly curling and straightening in an alternating pattern around a much smaller central body. Without close inspection, the short trunk of this central body is largely featureless, which gives rise to the Mudwings being seen by some cultures as more of an especially-mobile sort of plant than an animal. As the flats dry out at low tide, Mudwings settle their bodies low in the mud and beat their filaments to clear space around that body, creating a shallow "dish" of seawater that is held in their wings even after the rest of the tide retreats. These dishes are the puddles and depressions that are seen in the surface of the exposed flats. The creatures possess no skeleton, other than panels and rings of toughened tissue inside the central shape of their bodies. These toughened materials are occasionally dried out and preserved for use by local clans of lizardfolk, but otherwise dissolve with the rest of the creature soon after death. A hidden mouth lies where the roots of the wing strands meet at the top of the body. On the smaller, more common members of the species, this mouth is harmless to anything larger than little fish and shelled animals. Mudwing "trees" have been recorded in a few extremely remote locations (such as the Bitten Flats Flats), where a few ancient individuals grow to such a size that their central bodies become more like a short trunk than a disc, leaving them standing up from the mud at low tide instead of settled within it. When Mudwings can't remain submerged in their own held pool of water, their fernlike wings roll up like fiddleheads, and the oversized Mudwing "trees" can turn this defensive behavior into an offensive one. Most of the hunting is still done while underwater, but if something happens to come within reach of a Mudwing tree while it coils above the water, it will slap its wings out to snare itself an opportunistic meal.
Growth Rate & Stages
Very little is known about the lifecycle and reproduction of Mudwings. They seem to be slow-growing creatures, with the treelike members of the species being fairly ancient, though local Lizardfolk do harvest them with some frequency and the numbers seem to replenish themselves at a steady rate. It is guessed that reproduction and early life-stages progress at quick pace, with growth slowing down once individuals reach a certain size.
Ecology and Habitats
Mudwings are found in only the largest and most undisturbed of Greymantle mudflats, and why they are found in some locations and not others is poorly understood. For instance, though the Blacklace Flats seem like prime habitat for Mudwings, no mention of strange depressions have ever been found. Bitten Flats possess the densest known population of Mudwings, and the subtype that dwells there can be found nowhere else in Greymantle.
Dietary Needs and Habits
The Mudwing does not seem terribly picky about its diet, and opportunistically preys on whatever creatures are of a size that is convenient to snare and drag to its mouth. The exception to this rule are the "infestor" creatures that live on and around the Mudwing itself. It is generally assumed that these hitchhikers are too small to interest the Mudwing as food, though some of them seem to break this size limit and are strangely left alone anyway. It is assumed that they are of benefit to the Mudwing in some way, but aside from various Lizardfolk myths on the topic, this fact is only a guess.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Along with many of the strange and unique species of the mudflats and coasts, the Mudwing is a notable feature in Greymantle Lizardfolk culture. In local lore, the Mudwing symbolizes the movement of ephemeral things such as spirits and dreams through space, and the shape of its wings is represented in the artwork of several notable clans. Mudwings don't provide the most substantial of meals, but they are one of the species harvested on sweeping hunts across the flats, as well as collected for more ceremonial purposes. The toughened tissues within the central body can also be scraped clean, dried, and carefully preserved. Because this "Mudwing leather" is slightly flexible, absorbant, and can be quite strong, it is most commonly used in the construction of containers that are meant to remain dry. Its absorbant nature helps keep moisture away the container's contents, but if it becomes too wet, it will soon begin to rot and dissolve.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The primary sense that Mudwings use to navigate the world seems to be something more ephemeral than hearing or sight. Literature states that this sense must be something akin to touch or smell, but Lizardfolk clans in the area view it is something more psychic or psionic in nature.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
Almost as interesting as the Mudwing itself are the various infestor species that can be found in constant close proximity to it. Some of these infestors are small shelled creatures, some more resembling fish or slugs, but all of them are naturally camouflaged to hide amongst the leafy wings. It can only be speculated as to whether these creatures are feeding from Mudwing leftovers or waste, feeding on the Mudwing itself, or simply using it as protection. In any case, these creatures not only ride along as the Mudwing swims from place to place, but also rest and even breed in the miniature ponds that it creates at low tide.