|Origin||No Man's Sky|
|Species Type||Land Coral|
|Reproduction||Sexual; release gametes|
|Locomotion||Sessile in adult form|
|Related Species||Owvela Coral, Cave Coral|
Biyfisha Coral is a species of soft coral-equivalent indigenous to the Biyfisha Valley region of Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk. They are colonial organisms that form tall, stone structures that host a species of microscopic algae-equivalent to provide them with extra energy throughout the day.
They are closely related to the more common Owvela Coral found in the Plains of Owvela, Joube Valley and Yinfurbing Moor, but also seem to be distantly related to the Cave Coral found on the nearby planet of Ilongoqungo and has led credence to the two species evolving from similar species brought to the system by the Aurix thousands of years prior, indicating that their ancestors may not originate in the Euclid Galaxy, at all.
Biyfisha Coral are not terribly different than their more widespread cousins, the Owvela Coral and like them and the Cave Coral of Ilongoqungo, they are similar to their Earth-bound counterparts in not only physical characteristics but in their behavior, as well.
Although unrelated in any way to actual soft coral, much of their life is spent existing in a similar manner. They lack a hardened, calcium carbonate-like skeleton and instead quickly develop a spin, skeletal structure known as sclerites to provide minimal support. Like other Zukabergo flexcorals, the species postpones the construction of a full skeleton in order to focus on developing an overall colony faster. A full-sized Biyfisha Coral can develop in about 3 Earth weeks, growing even faster than the Owvela Coral and like them, one can actually watch the coral grow in real time during this initial growth phase.
Perhaps because they only inhabit such a small area of the planet which is also a haven for Sagerdh Cohore nests, Biyfisha Coral tends to only grow on combiersite, a mineral rock found in the region. This prevents them from being heavily consumed by the local Cohores. Combiersite cannot be digested properly even by Cohores and this is exploited by the Coral species. They incorporate small amounts of combiersite sand into their structure so that eating a large amount of them will be difficult as it will cause serious indigestion, impacting the gut. Upon reaching full maturation, their leathery skeleton will begin to absorb more of the combiersite they are anchored on and become a fully calcified structure in the process.
Biyfisha Coral thrives when irradiated and is one of many lifeforms that will enter a hibernation state when the irradiation goes into decline, hinting at a glaciation is forthcoming. Biyfisha has developed an incredible level of symbiosis with Zukalomba, an apparent descendant of the Chlorolomba species from the Aurixan homeworld of Vuunega, indicating that the giant species must have at one point explored this planet. The Zukalomba are allowed to form large pools of swirling, almost glowing and speckled green pustules all over the surface of the coral. While coral polyps will not grow in these regions, they will cluster in the areas around said pustules in large quantities than in the rest of the structure, to benefit from the free source of energy the microorganisms produce. Those further out in the structure rely instead on filter-feeding on free-floating food such as aeroplankton or wayward skin cells. Less numbers of small, undescribed species use the Biyfisha Coral as a safe habitat as are seen in Owvela Coral, but there are still some. The Speckled Gekdog will often climb the combiersite to rest and sunbathe in relative peace from potential predators or simply being disturbed.
Their mouth has developed a horned beak somewhat similar to cephalopods, surrounded by their 20 feeding tentacles. Unless deformed for retracting, these tentacles are cylindrical, tapering to a point while surrounded by a screw-like whorl of tiny, fleshy extensions known as pinnules. Although they need irradiation to survive, they will generally only emerge from their corallites when the shadow of the valley hills shade them from direct starlight. This prevents dessication to some degree and also lowers the overall irradiation they would otherwise receive to a more manageable level for a creature of their size.
The structure itself is not technically part of the organism but is instead a colony they build to house themselves, and their Zukalomba symbiotes. The species themselves are tiny creatures referred to as polyps, which sit themselves inside of cup-shaped depressions in the coral structure known as corallites. They can deform their own body in order to retract into the corallite to defend themselves, but also have stingers on the tips of their 20 feeding tentacles. Larger species do not typically have to worry about these stingers however as they are unable to pierce thick skin; instead it will feel like sandpaper.
Biyfisha Corals are filter-feeders, feeding on aeroplankton or organic "dust" that floats freely through the air, although they will not hesitate to try and mindlessly feed on anything that comes in contact with them (though this will prove unsuccessful to larger lifeforms). They may occasionally take a small creature roaming across the surface of the colony but most species so far researched that utilize them as a home are immune or at least resistant to this. Those that the polyps can take are subdued using their tentacle spines and are then fed upon by the predatory polyp and its adjacent neighbors for some days with their beaks. Their spines carry trace amounts of neurotoxin that rapidly subdue anything small that they can pierce. The tentacles are then used to move the prey to the beak if sufficient in size, or grooves in the beak will be used to periodically scrape off the tentacle filaments of microscopic organisms. Their digestive system is U-shaped, and any remains they cannot digest are simply regurgitated to get carried away by the winds.
Polyps are interconnected by their coenosarc, which is a complex and well-developed system of gastrovascular canals that allow for the transfer of nutrients between individuals.
The species has a mutualistic symbiosis with a species of microscopic algae-equivalents known as Zukalomba. These reside in large pustule-sacks outside of the rest of the skeletal shell. They are autotrophic but also supplement their diets by extracting some of their host's chemical waste to aid in their own processes. In return, a bit of the energy produced through photosynthesis is given back to the Biyfisha Coral.
Unlike Owvel Coral, Biyfisha Coral will never expel their symbiotes, even in times of extreme stress. However pustules can be burst by predators or other outside sources, leading to a green "bleeding". However, Atlas sentinels usually keep these corals in check to make sure this balance is not disturbed and as such this event is a rare occurrence to witness in the modern age.
Biyfisha Coral is both unisexual and hermaphroditic, and each is able to reproduce both sexually as well as asexually. This allows them to quickly reestablish themselves after a glacial thaw, an event that is beginning to look to researchers as a natural occurrence on the planet at regular intervals.
Predominately and in optimal conditions, Biyfisha Coral will reproduce sexually. Each colonial branch will have clusters of genders, based upon the areas where each original colonial member started and branching out. At the windiest times of the year, each of these genders will release clouds of gametes in tandem. Minimal environmental cues are necessary, but consist of the strength of the wind, time of the day, and the levels of ambient toxins and radiation in the air. When these match ideal conditions, all coral in the given area will release their material, which will fuse mid-air and form zygotes that quickly develop into new, temporarily mobile polyps known as paratropos, a planula-like larval stage that is elliptical in shape and has developed a parachute-like bell that helps carry them across the globe. Several hundred thousand of these polyps are assumed to be produced by each colony every year, although if they are anything like Cave Coral, very few of these would make it to maturity. While some may be taken by small predators such as the larval stages of certain Skyleech species, most likely perish due to high levels of toxins, too high or low levels of irradiation, or not enough iron deposits in the surrounding soil.
These Paratropos are also attracted towards combiersite, and although they can develop on the ground, these will usually be eaten by Cohores in a short timespan.
An interesting aspect of Biyfisha Coral sexual broadcasting is that should different species cast their gametes on the same night, these can fuse together to form hybridized species, thus creating a very easy path of evolution for the group.
The Paratropo planulae exhibit chemosensitivity, and will try to move into areas with proper irradiation levels. They will usually avoid areas with perpetual shade, but this is not always the case, which may be more due to their weak movement control than an actual desire to land in such locations. High failure rates are common throughout these motile cycles, and only a few will live long enough to join an existing or start a new colony. During this time, they will evolve from parachute-equipped paratropos, into a polyp, and finally into a truly mature coral head. This process usually only takes a day or two, but sometimes they can accidentally enter the air stream. Those that do have been known to become trapped here for a few months. Those stuck in the air stream are similar to occasionally become trapped there as seen in Owvela and Cave Coral, which can become trapped in the air stream for upwards of a decade. Unlike Owvela Coral however, no Biyfisha Coral individuals have yet been collected between Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk and Sacowitchi Iefalt, although this discovery of transfer is still quite recent.
Initially after a glacial thaw, the tuns formed from the hibernating polyps will very quickly begin to reproduce via budding. Budding only takes an individual 12 minutes, and under optimal conditions a single hibernating polyp can produce a small colony of 120 clones within a single 24 hour period. This process is also utilized to replaced deceased members once a colony has been properly established. The parent coral will split longitudinally (down the middle) and each half will grow farther and farther apart until they are completely separated; this involves a division of its body, known as the coelenteron, starting with the mouth and tentacles and separating down the rest of the body. Under normal conditions this usually takes about 8 days to complete, but the process is sped up significantly when a new colony is established; it should be noted that such swift energy expenditures does lead to a greatly diminished overall lifespan in the colony starters, but both speeds allow for a high reproductive and success rate.