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Tetras

From Discovered

Immediately after their arrival, the Tetras shared detailed anatomical models of themselves, posting them to the internet. Anatomical details are noted in Tetras#Biology, ranging from gross anatomy down to the cellular level. Social and behavioural characteristics are considered in the Tetras#Society section.

Tetras just started appearing on March 1st, 2034, appearing spontaneously out of thin air at local noon. Tetras exhibit a degree of symmetry not found in any Terran biology. Where humans have bilateral symmetry - left and right sides are mostly reflections - Tetras have somthing we didn't have a name for: triaxial symmetry. The main portion of their bodies looks the front of a human male torso from ribs to neck, but reflected so that the top and bottom are the same, and the back and front are the same. Instead of a head, they have long, prehensile trunks - similar in structure to elephant trunks. They inhale through both of these continuously. Their bodies are covered in hollow quills that vary in thickness and stiffness and colour. Around their centre-line, for example, the quills are up to 0.5cm in diameter, vasularized, and form the terminus for the respiratory system (they exhale through all of these).

Basic outline of Tetra gross anatomy. Actual coloration varies wildly. The quills that cover their torsos are not shown here.

Colouration varies wildly from individual to individual, in patterns that are often reminiscent of tie-die t-shirts. These patterns extend beyond the visible spectrum, from the ultraviolet down to microwave frequencies.

Tetras have no eyes or sensory organs to detect light. They appear to navigate the world through a combination of sonar (like whales), electrical senses (eels and some sharks), and magnetic senses (not found in Terran ecologies as far as we know).

Their hands are superficially similar primate hands: five digits, but the pinkie is a thumb and the middle finger is very significantly larger than the others. It has protruding bone plates on the first and second segments, providing a hoof-like structure to walk on and a solid structure to brachiate with. The last segment of the large finger has a broad flat pad with gecko-like microstructures: it is extremely grippy. Oh, and all the joints can bend in either direction.

Tetras are rarely found alone, generally operating in small teams of 3-6 individuals. When isolated, Tetras are unpredictable. Some individuals become meek, while others become aggressive. Their social structure is a mystery, but it is clear that they are at least as intensely social as humans.

The current speculation is that Tetras share some common evolutionary pressures with humans, and some that were very different. With no light-sensing organs, Tetras must have evolved in an environment where light was not a factor or was not reliable. This page is a catch-all for everything known about tetras at this point. It should be split up into sub-pages as soon as possible.

Biology

Tetra biology has many parallels with Terran biology, and many variations on the theme. Their seletons are made of stone - like vertebrates and molluscs on Earth - but the stone is a kind of Jade, not a kind of Limestone. Jade is extraordinarily resilient and strong; as bones go, they're better than anything Terran.

Tetras are triaxial, unlike anything earthly. This degree of repetition dominates their physical bodies: they don't have one heart or two kidneys. They have hundreds of each. It is as if a mouse-sized collection of all vital organs is copied and distributed thoughout their bodies.

Reproduction appears to be though eggs that are generated in special organs at the base of the trunks, just above their equivalent to collarbones. These four chambers distend to produce eggs up to 20cm in diameter. A "pregnant" Tetra is obviously so.

Some information related to the external morphology and the way the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems intertwine.

Sensory Organs

Tetras did not develop one sense we have: vision. They developed others instead, including echo-location (sonar), electro-location (electdar), and magneto-location (magdar).
Tetra hands and trunks are quite sensitive to electrical and magnetic fields. The trunks can also produce strong and controlled fields.

Sight

Dealing with the electromagnetic spectrum is very different for Tetras compared to most terrestrial creators. They do not have eyes, or anything that equates to vision. Instead, they use very advanced sonar for middle distances and an electrical sense for near distances. A human might say that Tetras experience their near world thorugh ‘touch at a distance’ of up to 20m.

Sonar

Similar to bats in range and resolution.

Touch

Traditional full contact touch works much like it does for Terran primates. Many of their tools have no obvious interfaces, however, indicating that they are controlled by magnetic and electrical interactions.

Electroception

This sense appears to work in a manner similar to some aquatic animals on Earth. Electroreception can be thought of - very roughly - as 'touch at a distance'.

Magnetoception

Magnetoception exists in Terran biology. The Tetras version of this sense is orders of magnitude more powerful than anything biological on Earth.

Hearing

Tetras are sensitive to frequencies from around 1KHzHz to 100,000Hz.

Smell

Tetras' respiration continuously inhales through both trunks, and exhales through quills on the torso surface. Olfactory ganglia spread throughout the trunks are about as sensitive as your average dog. Drug dogs and bloodhounds have them beat, but no human can track a mutant better than this guy.

Taste

It is not clear if the stomach pouches have taste receptors especially since these pouches also serve as the Tetras bowels.

Signallng Organs

Humans produce sounds, odours, and visual changes as signals to other creatures. Tetras do this too, but not the way humans do.

Electromagnetic Field Signalling

All four hands contain high concentrations of small organs that generate finely tuned electrical fields. These fields do not build up a charge like electric eels. Some electrical field senseors are also in the hands, but most of these sensors are in the trunks.

At the ends of the trunks, just before the eight lip-flaps, is what appears to be eight coils of superconducting biological wire. Tetras use these to produce potent magnetic fields. Based on observations it is believed they can produce fields in the range of 1 Tesla.

Sound Production

Tetras produce three kinds of sounds: sonar clicks, full spectrum playback (as from a speaker), and hypersonic targeted audio beams. They can hear what we say, but have real trouble relating to anything except direct actions.

Sonar

Eight arrays of stored-tension click organs encircle each chest segment of a Tetra. These fire in sequence, producing a loud ultrasonic click. This does not require airflow or respiration.

Full Spectrum Playback

The 'speakers' in the torsos of the Tetras produce sounds in a range from about 1KHz to 30KHz. Tetras appear to be able to record and play back complex sounds, including orchestra music. The bass is pretty tinny, however.

Hypersonic Targeted Audio

Using special piezoelectric speaker organs surrounding the main speaker, they can produce sounds that shear the air at a target location. This cause the air to vibrate in normal sound audio ranges at the target location. Targeting this effect requires the Tetra to align and rotate it's entire body.

Gross Anatomy

Imagine your chest. Tetras gross anatomy looks a lot like the front right of that chest, cut off at neck and the lower ribs, and reflected in three planes. They don’t have front and back sides; they look the same either way. Their four arms appear remarkably human at a glance, as do their hands. They are not. All their joints can bend in both directions. Their forearms don’t rotate like a human’s so some of their motions look quite odd to us. They have no head or tail; where we would expect these they have two 1 metre long trunks, similar in strength and flexibility to an elephant’s trunk.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system is unidirectional, as with fish and other anmals with gills. Air is continuously pumped through the airway in the centre of both trunks into air vessels that extend throughout the entire body. These air vessels run parallel to the blood vessels, powered by a series of simple in-line pumps distributed throughout their bodies. Larger air vessels and blood vessels are positioned inside their bones, which are a resilient mesh of solid materials worn together. Air is exhaled through hollow quill/hair structures growing out of the skin. If they go underwater their entire body seethes with tiny bubbles.

Comparisons to terrestrial respiratory systems

The efficiency of respiratory systems from worst to best:

  • Insects: Spicules and book lungs suck mostly nothing my god they're terrible ways to suck O2.
  • Amphibians: Your skin gets dirty so you die? You got to work on your lung capacity.
  • Mammals: The balloon sacks work pretty well, but have a lot of down time and they are ready to pop.
  • Birds: In, around, over there, then out. They can pull a lot more O2 out of the air with an arrangement that makes every breath count twice. It's good, but...
  • Tetras: The breathing fluid goes through and through. The respiratory tract is intensely vascularized in the bone cavities. It's like your forearm could get fresh O2 out of the air without waiting for a breath, and that whole interaction happened in a protective bone cage.

Circulatory System

The circulatory system works just like the respiratory system, with hundreds of tiny hearts in line with the arteries.

Trunks

The long nerves in the trunks appear to work like radio and mircowave frequency antennae. Authorities currently believe that Tetras can "hear" radio the way humans hear sound.

Tetras are most sensitive to sounds in the 1Khz to 60KHz range, based on their anatomy and observations. Their tintabular organs - patches on the torso that look like mishappen speakers - are far more flexible than terrestrial vocalization structures. If their brains can record a waveform - such as the output of a full symphony - a Tetra can reproduce it.

Arms

All the joints bend both ways, except for the shoulders, which have an open ball and socket arrangement that can also rotate. Unlike you and forearms which of two bones that can cross over they can rotate their forearms or their wrists. This means that some oceans that humans use to pick things up require the Tetra to rotate its entire arm from the shoulder. This is less of a disadvantage when your elbow wrist and finger joints all go both ways.

Hands

See notes on the pictures for now.

Reproductive System

Reproduction appears to be though eggs that are generated in special organs at the base of the trunks, just above their equivalent to collarbones. These four chambers distend. It is estimated that the eggs might reach up to 20cm in diameter. A "pregnant" Tetra is obviously so. Based on current observations, eggs are estimated to take about 1 week to mature within a Tetra. It is not known how long it takes to hatch. How or even if fertilization occurs is unknown. Tetras have been observed using their trunks to touch each other fairly frequently, including touching their own and each other's egg pouches while empty and when 'pregnant'.

Reproduction

These creatures reproduce. No one is clear on how the process starts, though genetic evidence indicates that at least four of the eight Terran sexes are required to fertilize an egg.

Eggs

Tetras are immensely colourful creatures, with swirling and mottled patterns covering the rainbow - but not black. There have been no Tetras with significant black markings. Their eggs are different. The shells are made of a variant of jade, but with impurities that make them jet black when looking at them directly. When the shells are viewed at an angle, brilliant colours appear. These colour patterns appear to match the triaxial divisions found in the adults. The dominant colours for each octant that will be on an adult are seen first on the shell.As you should be.

Juvenile

The larval stage is basically a flying snake, but much wider. It is ravenously omnivorous and appears to be comfortable in water and in air. On hatching they are roughly 1Kg, 1m long, and 30-40cm wide. The initial growth rate is quite rapid, with a doubling in mass on the first day.
Tetra Larvae.jpg

They do not appear to be intelligent like adult Tetras, instead behaving like domesticated animals. It appears that 6-12 eggs hatch together and remain associated with the pod of Tetras that layed them (2 eggs per parent).

They have mouth parts at each end made of eight muscular trunks with sticky pads that can flick out to capture prey. Unlike the adult one-bag digestive system, the larvae have a grinding sack followed by an intestinal tube running through the midline of the body. Waste is excreted at the centre of the body.

So far it appears that echolocation / sonar are their primary navigational sense. The main neural cluster aggears to be in the mid-centre of the body. It is protected by a boney shell - the only hard structure in the body.

Respiration is accomplished through dozens of spiricule-like tubes that pump air or water through the body. Unlike the adult form, this pump system can run in either direction, pulling in fluid at the tip to tip midline, or pulling in fluid near the mouths. In water this gives the larvae a directional thruster at one end and a suction pump at the other. This appears to help them capture fish and other prey.

Digestive System

Food goes into stomach pouches that open directly to the outside. There are two of these, located on the sides, midline. At any given time one has food added to it and the other accumulates waste.

These sacks grind up food using stones, like a gizzard. When the food is sufficiently pulped and digested, it is absorbed macrophage-like food-carrying cells in the blood. (nutrient blood cells?) These deliver packets of semi-digested food to organ bundles throughout the body. Organs with rough equivalents to liver, kidney, spleen, gall bladder and so on convert these to sugars and other molecules needed by cells. These are released into the blood on location as it were. The nutrient phages collect waste from the organ bundles, returning them to the "stomach" that is not currently in use digesting stuff.

Cellular Biology

With the Tetras arrival so recent, little is known about their biology at this level of detail. Some samples have been collected - passively and aggressively - but analysis has not yet shown much about their DNA or DNA equivalent.

Genetics

Tetra DNA uses the same basic building blocks as terrestrial DNA. It is arranged quite differently however. They also have eight sexes. Any 4 sexes can combine to produce a viable egg.

They have 16 chromosomes to contain all of their genes. This means their chromosomes are very large compared to human chromosomes. Each chromosome has genes from two parents, but any chromosome could have genes from (basically) any parent.

Best guess is that when the egg is fertilized there are a lot of 'extra' chromosomes available for the embryo. There may be some sort of chromosomal competition to remove the excess, at some point there is something like a blastocyst with eight cells. Each of those cells is likely to have genes from all four parents - but two per chromosome, so many possible combinations.

Based on the embryo development in the eggs it seems clear that each octant has a different genome. Sure, one Tetra might have a 'twin' octant, but it's rare. Even if they do, each octant still almost certainly has genes from all four parents.

Society

Summary

Social Structure

  • 4-5 together as a well coordinated team is most common. (About 80% of observed teams.)
  • 3 and 6 member teams are not uncommon, but notable. (<20% of observed teams.)
  • 2 and 7 member teams have been seen. (< 1% of observed teams.)
  • Individuals appear to be unstable and unpredictable in their behaviours and skills.
  • No team of 8 or more has been observed.

Technologies

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is how Tetras were able to spawn into our reality, just appearing at local noon. High speed cameras were prepared and arranged in predicted spawn points, successfully capturing the appearance of the creatures. They appear as a 3D 'wipe-fade' at the high-noon line. While on Earth their personal technology is almost all easily recognizable as basic mechanical tools. About ⅓ of Tetras wear a fairly bulky back-pack like structure carrying what appears to be computers based on carbon nano-tubes, fibre optics, and solid-hydrogen conductors.

Personal Tech

Some tools are universal. They carry utility knives, wrenches, hammers, and the like. Their electronics and computerized tools do not have any visible interfaces and appear to be activated and controlled by interactions with the Tetras' personal magnetic and electrical fields.

Transportation

No idea.

Combat

Raw notes for future cleanup.

  • They are appearing inside of buildings. Even shielded facilities. They do not appear to be breaking in anywhere, just manifesting spontaneously.
  • High-speed video footage shows them seeming to zoom in, expanding rapidly with a flash of UV, shifting down to normal light.
  • This is why it is being called spawning, like in a video game.
  • Today they have attacked no one, broken into nothing, and caused no harm directly.
  • Their main behaviour seems to be roaming around, scanning things with their bodies and with tools, and then exploring more areas.
  • They have defended themselves in a few different ways. Although they have not initiated an attack on anyone
  • Their primary defense seems to be to get out of the way. They are astonishingly good at dodging projectiles.
  • They also have thick quills blanketing their more vital areas, which act like bullet proof vests. Well at least at low calibers.
  • They climb like mofos too, making them very hard to grab. Four arms and two powerful trunks do not make attackers happy.
  • They have been witnessed using targeted high frequency sonic blasts to confuse and disorient humans.
  • Oh, and they can lash out with their trunks with high magnetic fields activated and snatch weapons away from attackers.
  • Those magnetic fields allow them to hang from many metallic surfaces easily. They can climb up them as well, pushing up with the bottom trunk while pulling up with the top one. The trunks are fully prehensile and capable of lifting the entire weight of a Tetra.