4.6 Billion Year Symphony of Evolution Volume Two Chapter Eleven “Small But Complex”

This chapter has been brought to you by me, and WanderingGummiOfDoom.

Last chapter: Lin encounters some new organisms it kills with hammer tentacles.

 

Chapter Eleven – Small But Complex

After Lin consumed the second leaf worm, it had enough nutrients to resurrect the oval worm.

Lin formed a multicellular structure with a round front and a pointed end. This shape could be described as “streamlined.” This kind of structure swam quickly through the water. Lin named it a “transporter.” Their primarily purpose for transporting large numbers of fat cells back to where the oval worm’s shell was. Lin didn’t want to go back and wanted to eat more leaf worms.

Lin created ten transporters. Each transporter was composed of over a hundred thousand cells. There was a circle of long and flat tentacles along the middle to help the transporter swim. After the fat cells were placed in the empty interior, they swam towards the ice cavern.

After that, Lin moved its eyes back onto a nearby leaf worm.

The food that couldn’t move was excellent.

Lin happily moved the mothership’s tentacles. When it wanted to swim, it suddenly felt something was wrong. Some of the cells on the ectoderm had disappeared, but Lin didn’t feel any pain.

Didn’t feel any pain but they died? So strange … …

Lin sent out devourers from the mothership to investigate the place that had disappeared. This situation was most likely an attack. Lin only knew the position was near the sprout a the rear.

The mothership was too large and contained more than few billion cells. With just the two eyeball antenna at the front, Lin could not observe the entire body. Also, Lin’s senses on the surface had dulled due to the hardening of the ectoderm. While it had two little tentacles that were used for detecting the movement of the water current, just like the eyes, it couldn’t feel all over the body.

When the devourers swam along the mothership’s ectoderm behind the mothership, they immediately found the cause of the incident. There was a strange organism attached to the ectoderm near the mothership’s spout. This thing looked as though it was made from five thick tentacles. It was stuck to the ectoderm. Lin could feel the ectoderm where it was attached disappearing.

“Sea star.”

Lin had not created this name. It had risen from Lin’s thoughts. Lin felt that the name suited this organism

Was this sea star eating the ectodermal cells? But why didn’t Lin feel any pain?

Maybe this organism had some method that prevented cells from feeling pain so that it could sneakily eat. However, Lin could still feel the cells disappearing so this organism’s plan had failed.

As Lin thought this, it released large numbers of devourers to attack.

This “sea star” was about ten times the size of the large devourers. On the surface it looked soft, and it could nimbly move its tentacles. This meant that it did not have a hard shell and should be easily to deal with.

The devourers bit onto the sea star’s five tentacles and then forcefully pulled back in hope of pulling the sea star off the ectoderm.

But the sea star was closely stuck to the mothership. No matter how hard the devourers tried, they could not pull the sea star off. Also, the cone-shaped cells that made up the mouths of the devourers couldn’t damage the sea star’s ectoderm.

The outer skin of the sea star looked soft and it could move easily, but in actuality, the skin was extremely hard. It seemed to be extremely “flexible” and there were many sharp protrusions on the surface. This made it more difficult for the devourers to bite and wound the sea star.

It really was a troublesome thing.

If Lin’s hammered tentacles could reach this position, it could easily smash this sea star.

However, Lin didn’t just have one kind of devourer. The cone-shaped cells in the mouths of these small devourers were single cells to start with. They had not been bound together in order to effectively crush other cells.

Ever since the oval worm incident, Lin increased the number of large devourers in preparation for facing other multicellular organisms. Some of the devourers had specialized. Lin formed many curved structures that were sharp at the points in their mouths and called them “giant teeth.” The teeth of these devourers were much bigger than the previous devourers. Due to this, they were not suited for chewing on single cells, but they were extremely suitable for fighting multicellular organisms like this.

Lin had the ordinary devourers move away and had the giant teeth devourers attack this sea star. When the giant teeth bit onto the sea star’s tentacle, its mouthful of sharp giant teeth immediately stabbed into the tentacle of the sea star under the force of its muscle body. Then Lin had the giant teeth devourer release. The cells of the sea star flooded out of the wound in large numbers.

Lin had the devourers quickly clean up these cells then charge towards the star wound to tear apart the exposed and soft structures.

At this time, the sea star did not stay motionless on the mothership. Its wounded tentacle broke off its body. The sea star with only four of its tentacles fell off the mothership and rode a flow of water into the distance.

It snapped a part of its body so the main body could flee? It was too naive.

What was “naive?” While this term came strangely, it did not affect Lin having the giant teeth devourers pursue that sea star and then completely tear it to pieces.

After the sea star left, Lin looked at its damaged ectoderm. A large part where the sea star had been was missing. This sea star was able to create such a wound but make the victim not feel any pain? It seemed that Lin had to study the sea star.

While it had been torn apart, the important parts could be kept so Lin had enough to study. Lin found that this being’s tentacles had large amounts of smaller tentacles underneath. These tentacles had hemispherical hollow parts at the end. It seemed to have used these things to stick onto the mothership’s ectoderm.

Where these the suckers? They seemed able to produce great power. Lin’s devourers were unable to tear it away. This was worthy of study.

There was a hard shell under the sea star. The shell was similar to the outer shell of the oval worm, a structure not made from cells, but it was relatively soft.

However, Lin was most concerned with the sea star’s mouth parts. There was a hole at the center of the five tentacles. There were curved hooks around the mouth. This was slightly similar to the oval worm’s mouth. But most importantly were the small openings at the end of these curved hooks. Lin had the cells squeeze into them, and found that these holes were connected to a sac-like region inside the sea star.

This sac was composed of yellow cells. They would secret a kind of fluid. When this fluid touched Lin’s cells, the cells would enter a strange state. The cells would not be able to move, and they lose all senses.

Not all the curved teeth of the sea star all had holes connected to the sac. Some of the hooks did not have holes. Lin thought that the ones lacking holes were used  to dig out the senseless cells and consume them.

This was an extremely powerful structure. Use the sharp hooks to pierce the opponent’s outer skin, and then inject a destructive fluid? Lin seemed to have seen some cells with this ability in the past, but why hadn’t it thought of making a similar multi-celled structure?

The acid ejectors had evolved from the cone-shaped cells but their openings were not a point. Due to this, Lin had not thought of such an ability.

But now Lin knew, it could also make structures like this.

Also, the sea star also had blood vessel constructs. Lin did not find where the heart was. It might have been chewed up by the devourers. The blood vessels and the interior cells did not have the ability to move water. The sea star should have a heart.

Lin found something similar to a heart. This was an oval object made from a pile of cells unlike all others. This kind of cell was long, and had many tentacles that gathered together. Also, these cells were connected to the blood vessels that spread throughout the body.

But these passages did not transport nutrients and they didn’t have anything inside them. The oval structure at the center did not move at all. Then what was their purpose?

“Ganglion?” This term appeared in Lin’s thoughts. While Lin did not understand, it had a feeling, this was something that was completely useless to it.

Other than this, there were some other strange structures. For example, there was a sac that contained a large number of round white cells. This sac possessed an empty tentacle that connected to the outside of the skin. Its purpose seemed to be passing these white cells out. There were many structures made out of tentacles connected together. The structures were made from thick and empty tentacles in a complex fashion.

Lin did not know what the purpose of most of the structures were. It hadn’t thought that the sea star was so much more complex compared to the oval worm considering the smaller size of the sea star. Lin thought the oval worm was also a complex organism. Pity that the viruses had destroyed it.

But Lin was not very concerned. It could defeat them. This was most important.

Lin only absorbed useful knowledge. It would not care about what it didn’t understand, it would eat it all.

When Lin was studying the sea star, the “transporter” already moved the fat cells to the oval worm to start repair work.

Lin believed that not long in the future, it would once again evolve into a peak existence.

Editor’s note:

So I’m going to have a lot to say about a few chapters I think. Zoology major for the win. A fairly accurate description of a starfish. A lot going on in this chapter, we have the introduction of a nervous system!

 

As far as I know some starfish have inverted stomachs, meaning they engulf their prey by enveloping them with their stomach and then digesting them slowly. Others use their limbs to immobilize their prey, then inject their prey with acids to partially digest them, and then “lick” up the remains with their stomach. So “biting” Lin wasn’t quite right.

 

The small tentacles are called tube feet. The body of most starfish have calcium carbonate that function like studded armor. The escape tactic of sacrificing the limb is also real. They do it in hopes their predator is satisfied with a small meal and bail. There are youtube videos. The paralytic agent is also real. Starfish are pretty badass. Other members of the phylum Echinodermata, like sea urchins, use toxins instead of paralytics.

 

Translator Ramblings: Starfish, or sea stars, are a bit more fearsome than the five-footed thing we usually see. Some of them are spectacularly beautiful.

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