A Distal flenser, also known simply as a flenser, is a large, dangerous creature that fills a similar ecological niche in the Distal Tesseract to that of bears in other regions of the Manifold. Agressive, solitary, and territorial, the flensers are a serious, if uncommon, danger to anyone exploring Distal-associated regions without the proper defensive measures in place.
A Distal flenser stands up to 10' tall at the shoulder and weigh up to half ton at full maturity. The creature's flat, roughly triangular body is held aloft by four thick limbs, articulated like those of terrestrial spiders, that fork at the ends into two sharp claws in the front and a shorter dewclaw at the rear. The undersides of these limbs form sharp angles, allowing the creature to cut opponents with raking motions as well as skewer them with their claws. The whole of the creature's body is covered in thick, iridescent, dark reddish-brown exoskeleton that is reinforced with silicate and iron inclusions; this natural armor is up to an inch thick in places and has been known to resist small arms fire.
Genetics and Reproduction
Flensers mate in the fall and females lay clutches of eggs at the onset of the winter hibernation period. Female flensers hibernate directly over the top of their cluches to provide maximum protection from predators and insulation from the elements. Flensers generally only mate with one individual over the course of a season, but can only be considered monogamous insofar as they allow only certain individuals of the opposite sex to remain in adjacent territories. While flensers lay up to a dozen eggs in a cluch and do so every year from sexual maturity onwards, their juvenile survival rates are poor. As few as one flenser from a given clutch might survive long enough to exit the nest, consuming any deceased siblings to conserve resources before moving on to find their own territories. Clashes between flensers over mates and territory are often fatal as a result of the creatures' great strenght and array of natural weaponry.
Growth Rate & Stages
Flenser chitin grows with natural hinges and seams so that it can be shed as the creature grows. The chitin is most often cast off at the end of hibernation and the integument consumed to provide some extra nutrition after the long, hungry winter.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Distal flensers are omnivores and are capable of eating just about anything they can get into their wide-set mandibles, though they prefer fruits, fish, and small- to mid-sized game. The creature uses rush-down tactics when hunting, falling upon prey with speed and brute strength in hopes of a quick kill because it lacks the endurance for a prolonged pursuit. During lean times - especially in early spring when fat reserves are low - a flenser's stomach enzymes become increasinly acidic. The creature can spit a stream or bolus of this highly corrosive substance up to 30ft away to break down carrion, bone, and even wood for consumption. A flenser's acid spit causes chemical burns where it touches living flesh of other creatures, making it a potent weapon against attackers and hardy prey such as Distal razorbacks.
Distal flensers are solitary, aggressive, and territorial. Only the desire to mate in the autumn causes flensers to tolerate the incursion of other flensers into their territories. Territories are delineated by a combination of scent markings and nighttime chittering sounds that are unique to each individual. Any non-flenser that wanders into a flenser's territory, regardless of size, will likely be attacked; apex predators in their native habitats and covered with literally bullet-resistant armor, Distal flensers have no natural predators save for rival flensers, and, thus, have little in the way of a natural fear response. The dense composition of the flenser makes it impossible for the creature to swim or climb all but the stoutest of trees, but it can leap and sprint with surprising alacrity. The flenser, though not sapient, is well aware of its physical limits. Thus, people who encounter flensers in the wild are encouraged to get as far away as possible, swim into a body of water deeper than the flenser is tall, or climb a tree to evade it.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The flenser is a nocturnal hunter and has excellent low light vision. Four all-black eyes are situated in pairs on either side the mandibles, giving the creature both forward binocular vision and wide peripheral vision. The creatures's four legs anchor further back on its body that its rostral extent in part to make way for its lateral sight cones. It is believed that flensers are capable of seeing deep into the ultraviolet spectrum, an adaptation that makes it capable of using even the meager Distal moonlight to hunt; its own body heat would prevent clear infrared vision. A flenser lacks the antennae of comparable arthropod or arachnid species, but has olfactory receptors in the spiracles that line the lateral and caudal seams of its central body, allowing it to track prey by scent.