Spinalanx
Spinalanx_close
The Spinalanx evolved on a high gravity terrestrial planet (with about 2.1 times the Earth's surface gravity; an 80
kg human would weigh 168 kg on the Spinalanx' homeworld!) called Nairox in the system of Alpha-Novadrac. They
are quite short (about 1.6 metres tall) and squat and very strong. They have both an endoskeleton and an
exoskeleton, optimising both the support of their bodies and protection. Their planet has a very dense
atmosphere poisoned by the regular and large-scale volcanic activity that occurs. Frequently, dense plumes of
noxious gas fill the air.

As adaptations to these conditions the Spinalanx have a filter protecting their respiratory system, visible as the
gauze-like mesh covering the front of the face, each pore of which can be closed when needed, and which is also
provided with an internal filtering mechanisms to absorb and remove noxious gases. Eyes occur as as small
eyespots, each visible as a single crystalline lens which is almost indistinguishable from the many bump-like
protuberances that decorate their exoskeleton. These eyespots give 360 degree vision, but with the
highestresolution restricted to the forward-most 140 degrees of the visual field. However, the eyes are
supplementary to the primary sensory modality, which is a type of short-range radar that penetrates the frequent
dense clouds of volcanic gas. The head spines (usually numbering 12 or 18) act as both emitters and receivers of
radio waves, which allows the Spinalanx to scan the area around, in fine detail, even when optical vision is
obscured. Radio signals are also used as a form of communication, though Spinalanx can also produce vocal
sounds. The spines are also used as weapons, and if a spine is broken, then it will be shed and replaced by a
new spine.
Above: a closer view showing the guaze-like respiratory apertures, and the four mouths
underneath. Each mouth is born on a retractile tentacle or proboscis (all shown retracted
here). These mouths can also be tightly sealed when noxious gases are present. The pores at
the sides of the head (those on the creature's left side are obscured by shadow) are auditory
sensors, with each pore opening into an auditory canal. The eyespots are difficult to
distinguish from the wart-like bumps that cover the head. These bumps decorate the entire
exoskeleton, which is usually a golden yellow-brown colour, but some racial types are blue or
black.
Spinalanx utilise sulphur dioxide gas for respiration, in place of oxygen, but they can also respire anaerobically
for several hours if necessary. Each limb ends in four digits, though one of these is much reduced, which are
highly flexible yet strong and equipped with suckers to assist in grip. The Spinalanx have a poor sense of smell
and their visual system gives them poor judgement of distance, though their radar sense gives them excellent
distance perception. Their hearing is good in the dense atmosphere of their own world. These auditory sensors
also act as pressure senses, detecting nearby movements in the dense atmosphere. Each digit also contains
an additional 'eye' and light sensors are distributed over the surface of the exoskeleton, though those on the
head make up the primary visual sense.

Spinalanx have a natural lifespan of 160 years.

When the Erfavlins first made contact with the Spinalanx, Spinalanx civilisation was similar in advancement to
the Mediaeval societies on Earth in the Middle Ages, and was similarly feudal. The Spinalanx were ruled by a
warrior elite with groups of warriors swearing allegiance to a lord, who might in turn serve a higher lord, and
also they were ruled by a clerical elite. To some extent this trend has continued, but the Spinalanx have
developed their technology rapidly, assisted by the Erfavlins, and many now serve as galactic mercenaries.

Below: a Spinalanx larva:
The Spinalanx
spinalanx larva
spinalanx_embryo
Below: an earlier stage of the Spinalanx larva. This stage originally floated in
suspension in the volatile swamps of the Spinalanx homeworld, but now they
are incubated by artificial means.