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Inspiration For Authors #1: Crinoids

Neocrinus decorus by Messing, Charles is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

Have you ever run into something so cool that you just had to scream about it and/or include it in one of your stories? That’s essentially what this “inspiration” thread is for. Don’t mind me as I geek out😊

My first post is on crinoids! You might know them better as sea lilies (photo above), or as the Pokémon Lileep:

Crinoids are echidnoderms, which means they’re in the same phylum as starfish. Echnidnoderms are just in-general the aliens of the sea, but I’m focusing on crinoids specifically today because they’re animals, but they look likes plants. If you want a funny and educational video to learn more, click here!

Since they’re filter feeders, crinoids are in-general content to stay in place and gather nutrients from the water.

That is, until they’re not.

Feather stars are one type of crinoid that basically look like colorful feather dusters waving at you from the sea floor. But some of these have the ability to burst into motion and swim to a new location. Creepy, if you had mistaken it for a plant!

Sea lilies also aren’t chained to one place. For example, if a sea urchin begins eating one, they can break their own stalks and use their “petals” to crawl away.

Now, imagine if they were giant and lived on land.

My sister and I are currently in the process of building a world together, eventually hoping to co-write a book (we’re having to work around both of our school schedules, so we’ll see how that works out). It’s an alternate future where nanites have infested every living thing (think Generator Rex) and humans have learned to use the nanites in their own bodies to interact with (“code”) their surroundings.

Don’t laugh at me, but whenever I come up with a story, a bunch of colors immediately come to mind. (Sometimes I’ll ask my writing friends, “what color are your stories?”) For some reason, this story was steel grey, bright white with splotches of black, and very, very green. I had images of steel and glass skyscrapers with vines curled around them, trees piercing modern buildings, but all in a world where society was more-or-less functional. How could I get there?

Okay, so I already know that nanites have infested everything…so maybe they infested the plants too but made the plants grow haywire? That works. But then do the plants just grow back to normal? But then why have them in the first place? ☹

That’s when I thought crinoids.

Sadly, I can’t actually turn these massive plants into crinoids. Crinoids and other echidnoderms only move (or live) due to their water vascular system – basically a biological hydraulics system. That’s why they’re only found in the water (sad face). So I’ll have to come up with some reason why/how these plants move on their own outside the water.

BUT learning about crinoids has given me an idea of what might be considered normal in this world. Perhaps there are some ferns that can catch the wind, essentially flying, like feather stars? Perhaps some species of trees have flexible stalks that they have the ability to snap if they feel threatened, then crawl away?

Which raises the question…what threatens the trees?

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