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Gas Giant Life-- Boukalizoans by NocturnalSea Gas Giant Life-- Boukalizoans by NocturnalSea
Created for a contest over at World-Craft [link] Boukalizoans (so named because many of them resemble oddly-shaped bottles) are small, planktonic organisms that drift in the upper atmosphere of a gas giant similar to Jupiter. Boukalizoans come in a bewildering variety of shapes and colors, but the traits that unite them all are:

1.) Four outgrowths—termed labria (singular labrum)-- surrounding the mouth. These are often modified into bulbous, gourd-like crops for holding food.

2.) Four primary eyes (usually) situated at the junction of two labria.

3.) Two smaller ocelli-like eyes behind each primary (eight ocelli in all)

4.) A gas-filled bladder that helps them stay afloat. Filled primarily with hydrogen that has been slightly heated above ambient temperatures.

5.) A “germ-sac” at the posterior end. Young develop within the sac and migrate to the surface where they form buds and feed until they are large enough to separate from the parent.

Most boukalizoans, by the way, have an alternating life cycle similar to Earthly cnidarians (which alternate between polyp and medusa stages) and nematodes (which often alternate between free-living and parasitic generations). Boukalizoans of the alternate generation (termed helicozoans—not to be confused with Earth's heliozoans) are quite different structurally from their bottle-shaped parents. I’ll have more on this group soon.

The Species

A.Spotted Hookgourd Nodophoramorphis maculosus
Although it is not yet clear why the tail and tip of the crop have hooked together in this group, such an arrangement seems to be ecologically important, since the hookgourds are one of the most highly-diverse planktonic species on the planet. Since this arrangement prevents the hookgourds from opening their mouths, these animals have developed a symbiotic relationship with several phyla of photosynthetic “bacteria”, which are visible on its skin as the patches of black and yellow.

B. Harlequin Berry-eye Dichtyoderma megalomatia
Although this boukalizoan has been observed to snack on other, smaller organisms, the majority of its food comes from its large photosynthetic eyes. Instead of chlorophyll, Berryeyes use a form of retinal (a photosensitive protein that is also found in the eyes of most Earth animals) to capture light.

C. Blue-faced Corpseflower Floricorpus caeruleus
The corpseflowers are believed to closely resemble the boukalizoan ancestral form, with four separate labria and a bulbous germ-sac (shown here with several budding helicozoans). F. caeruleus is an active, voracious predator that feeds by enveloping prey in its labria and liquefying them with regurgitated stomach acids.

D. Wulandari’s Tanglegourd Nodophora oculocaulis
Close relatives of the hookgourds, tanglegourds have taken the elongated, entangled tail-and-crop complex to an extreme. Also like the hookgourds, Nodophora gain most of their nutrition from symbiotic black and yellow bacteria living in their skin. The stalked eyes of this species are believe to give it binocular vision, though to what purpose is not known since it is not a predator.
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:iconthemutantlizard:
themutantlizard Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015
How big are they?
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
They're fairly small. Most are no bigger than a thumbnail.
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:icondeinibrett:
DeiniBrett Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Such life would be a bit unestable. Heated helium its really REALLY difficult to control as it easily inflamates. All the creatures would have to tolerate winds far more fast and strong than the strongest winds on earth and the turbulences woul be very disturbing, so if they are planktonic and they rely on the fact that the food will be floating also they woukd have to be veeery quick! most of the sesile creatures or creature with simple nervous systems such as cnidarias have very slow response. Bove all that, gas giants produce HUGE amounts of Radiation that usually breaks down the DNA assuming that your life forms are Carbon based of course.
By the way, eyes don't seem suitable for such an envirorment, other types of senses could do fine to discern the direction, adn since most of them are not predators, no eyes needed, just a quick response!
They look cool though, but remember, winds never stop in gas giants, NEVER.
I like the Idea though!
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
shouldn't it be labrum-labra like exemplum-exempla? =) (I still remember something from my latin class YAAAAYYYY! XD)
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
D'oh! I do believe you're right.
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:happybounce: I am sorry for not complimenting on your work before, you have some of the most alien aliens I have seen so far! :D
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
heh, thanks! :D
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
you need to do moar of these!!! pweaseeee!!!! :D
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I definitely want to get back to the Amaterasu-Izanagi system. I've still got lots of ecosystems in the sketch/planning stage. The problem is always that it takes a lot of time to write up those "field guide" pages. Though I suppose I could draw up a couple more of these simpler boukalizoan designs just for fun.
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
that would be fantastic! I'm a fan! :D
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:iconcontemplatecast:
ContemplateCast Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
SO MANY COLORS love it!
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:iconspacerhunterzorg:
SpacerHunterZORG Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
AAAAGH!!! They're awesome!!!
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
thanks :)
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:icontransapient:
Transapient Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
LOVE These! I can acually imagine a sophont evolving from them, weird because that's acually the first thing that popped in there when I saw these. Excellent!

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"Well excuse me for having enormous flaws that I don't work on!"--Homer Simpson
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Sophont? Isn't that Poul Anderson's word for intelligent beings throughout the universe?
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:icontransapient:
Transapient Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
Yes it is! I acually didn't know where the word came from, I just saw it used here and there to describe intelligent life forms. But you are right! I looked it up, and the word was acually coined by his wife. Anyhow, I like that word!

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"Well excuse me for having enormous flaws that I don't work on!"--Homer Simpson
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:icondeeparms:
deeparms Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011
I love the tanglegourds, and I like how you kept the adaptive value of having a tail-and-crop complex a mystery.

Are the colors based on certain sea slugs?
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I figured that alien life forms would have plenty of adaptations Earth scientists wouldn't totally understand (at least, not at first). Heck, there're lots of critters on Earth whose adaptations we don't completely understand yet-- such as certain deep-sea anglerfish with their crazy, super-complex lures.

And yep, they are patterned after seaslugs. B. is Glossodoris charlottae. A. and D. are Chromodoris anna. C. was another species, but I can't remember its name right now.
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:iconpetirrojoazul:
Petirrojoazul Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Love them!

media?
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Colored pencil. And thanks.
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:iconsaxophlutist:
Saxophlutist Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very neat! Very plausibly alien as well! I like the original organismal design!
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:iconelectreel:
electreel Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011
I see you have an unlimited imagination =D
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:iconnocturnalsea:
NocturnalSea Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Yessir. I loves me some speculative evolution.
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