Distal Urticator Species in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Distal Urticator

A Distal urticator - often spoken of as urticators for short - is a detritivore native to the Distal Tesseract. Urticators are most notable for their unique ability to throw their spines at would-be threats, a defensive capability required to keep the Distal razorbacks and parasitic Distal polyps (their natural predators both) at bay.

Basic Information


A Distal urticator is broadly shaped like an upright barrel or elongated gumdrop, with the top of the creature's rubbery body being hemispherical in shape and the bottom terminating in three lumps evenly spaced around the creature's circumference. These three lumps are the creature's feet. Though the creature appears to have trilateral symmetry at first glance, Distal urticators are bilaterally symmetric and, therefore, have a distinct front and back; two feet are located at the front and one at the back. The whole of a Distal urticator is translucent and glows a vibrant sea blue in the ultraviolet light of the Distal sun.   The creature's body is open at the bottom, forming a maw through which the detritus the creatue is standing over can be ingested. The urticator possesses radula and feeds in manner similar to that of terrestrial snails.   An urticator's shape is maintained by variable hydrostatic pressure; internal channels, which extend the length of the creature's body and wrap around it in helical patterns, serve as pseudo-muscles and allow the creature to flex and move in the manner of a cephalopod when the pressure within them is manipulated.   A Distal urticator is covered in two inch long, silicate spines which flouresce a neon pink color in ultraviolet light. This coloration is believed to be a form of aposematism. The spines come in several forms across a given individual and serve a variety of purposes, from providing insulation to serving as love darts (see Genetics and Reproduction), but their most prominent purpose is in defense. The dart-shaped spines are barbed and are capable of piercing human or even verdial flesh on contact. What's more, each spine located over a bulb filled with a pressurized biochemical propellant similar to that found in fire beetles, meaning that the creature can whip its body around to hurl them into opponents at a short distance.

Genetics and Reproduction

Distal urticators are hermaphroditic. Every three years in late winter to early spring, urticators enter oestrus and seek out conspecifics with different histological makeup; it is believed that this determination is made by scent, though it is also possible that urticators are capable of percieving slight morphological differences between family lineages. When a suitable partner is found, each individual presents special, foreshortened spines containing spermatozoa, which are then fired or pressed into the partner at close range. Gametes travel from the hollow cores of these spines into the recieving individual's mantle, where they merge with egg clusters growing near the bottom edge of the torso. Once so fertilized, an individual ceases to draw the attention of other conspecifics, likely as a result of some change in pheremones.   Over the course of the next 3-5 days, a fertilized Distal urticator produces up to four thorn-covered egg sacs through a budding procees. It guards these egg sacs with its body for up to two weeks before they hatch. The creature will attempt to lay these egg sacs in a secluded location with good cover from the elements and where there is edible detritus nearby; most often, this is in the space beneath a tree or near piles of old shardleaf spoor.   Each egg sac maturates and grows closer to the creature's final shape until it acquires feet; the remaining patch of egg sac, having originated as part of the parent's flesh, remains with the individual until replaced through endogenous tissue growth. Hatchlings are able to walk and feed within a matter of hours, and may follow their parents in small bands until fully matured (up to a year later) or until an oestrus cycle makes them leave in search of a mate.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Distal urticators are detritivores, prefering fresh or decaying plant matter. An urticator has a multi-chambered stomach capable of handling both meat and vegetable matter, but urticators are generally skittish and not inclined to actively hunt prey.   Distal urticators are the only known creatures capable of eating shardleaf (via chelation enzymes) with little ill effect, and they are capable of getting some limited nutritional value from Penrose fescue (via fermentation) despite the difference in amino acid chirality between the two species.

Additional Information

Average Intelligence

Distal urticators are more social and intelligent than their otherwise primitive-looking physiologies would suggest. Most of their brain power devoted to sensory integration and their unusual form of locomotion. Conspecifics will often travel in loose colonies, sharing territory with relatives up to two steps removed with one another. Urticator colonies have been observed forming defensive lines and rings in response to sightings of Distal polyp patches and other sources of danger, firing directed vollies of spines at such threats should they come too close. There is some evidence that urticators can communicate with one another through body positioning and a variety of signalling pheremones.   While fearsome in appearance, urticators appear to lack any interest in attacking creatures which do not show any signs of agression (i.e. a fast approach) and, indeed, are rumored to show an alien form of affection if approached by familiar individuals bearing fresh leaves to snack on. In one notable case, a Petalcap Vale Customs Authority game warden who spent a long time in the Distal bush near a group of urticators found that the individuals who were born in his presence acted as though he had always been part of the group, perhaps imprinting on his scent. Thereafter, the game warden never lacked for an escort in the otherwise very dangerous terrritory.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

The entirety of a Distal urticators body - excluding the feet - is covered in tiny difficult-to-see eyespots and chemoreceptive pores. While an urticator's visual resolution is not good, it has all-around vision and a wide visible spectrum, making the creature incredibly difficult to sneak up on. When threatened, an urticator can 'scrunch' up patches of flesh along its topmost, hemispherical portion, temporarily increasing its visual resolution to allow it to aim in preparation for launching spines.

Approximately 20 years
Average Height
2.5'-3' at maturity, but rare specimens have grown to up to 6' tall
Average Weight
50 lbs
Geographic Distribution

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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Mar 16, 2021 12:22 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Ooo these are so weird, I love them. I love how scientific this article is, particularly in regards to anatomy and reproduction. Would love to see a picture of one!

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet