|Environment||Vast, tropical catapult forests, which line many beaches of the tropical coasts of continents and islands.|
|Lifespan||400 Vuunegan years|
|Feeding Behavior||Autotroph with supplemental carnivory|
|Prey||Photosynthesis, small creatures|
Catapult Trees are a species of xenosurin tree found exclusively on Vuunega, the homeworld of the Aurix. They seem to appear from the unexplored continent of Zorgen, yet they are found on at least one other continent, Zeeon — the continent onto which the Aurix evolved.
Catapult trees are partially-carnivorous flora with a complex, five stage life cycle. They are widespread and form vast forests along the tropical shores of both continents and islands; these forests are so vast and the catapult trees so dominating, that they are deemed as their own separate biome, called the catapult tree forests or simply catapult forests.
- Homeworld: Vuunega
- Species Type: Syrup-blooded Terrestrial Xenosurins
- Lifestyle: Solitary Flora
- Hunt/Forage Success Rate: 85% Photosynthesis (99.7% success rate during day, 5% success rate during night), 10% Luring (40% success rate), 5% Mineral/Metal Extraction (99% success rate)
- Armor: As rockscales, they have a shell-like outer casing that is covered in several metal plates to help protect it from attackers. As they finally bury their root-legs into the ground and settle to become sessile, the shell expands upwards, forcing the existing plates to cover the body as a Whiphusk, while they begin to extract more metals from the soil to complement these plates with new ones that will only cover the trunk of the adult Catapult Trees.
- Defenses: Minus the metal plating mentioned above, they can also protect themselves with their whipping tendrils in the Whipscale, Whiphusk, and even Catapult Tree forms, assuming the latter is not preparing itself to launch its seeds, during which point the tendrils are wrapped around the root-legs.
- Weapons: The whipping tendrils are also used for attacking back at foes, with the intent on killing them, although they generally won't give chase to continue inflicting damage. To kill their potential prey that they use to supplement their diet, they use their weight to crush the poor creature underneath them, luring them in with sweet-smelling pheromones.
- Tools: The whipping tendrils are the closest thing to manipulative tools a Catapult Tree possesses.
- Method of Eating: Unspecified
- Reproductive Rate: Sexual maturity is reached after 5 years. Flower during the summer months.
- Gestation: Variable — flowers wither after pollination has taken affect and nuts are produced so that they are matured by the end of the windy autumn months.
- Offspring Incubation: Variable — Rockscale seeds will not begin to grow until they sense that they have become beached somewhere. Once this has occurred, it takes a full month for the rockscale to mature into a rockscuttler.
- Number of Offspring: 1 per year — any more and they would not be able to aim their shots properly, with many landing on the beach instead of making it to the water.
- Offspring Survival Rate (before age of maturity): Variable — with presumably millions of Catapult Trees tossing their young into the sea, with these ending up in possibly several locations, it cannot be determined how many might survive to maturity.
- Singular/Plural: Catapult Tree/Catapult Trees
Catapult trees lead an interesting life cycle. When the young seeds of the species, called Rockscales, have matured enough, the adult catapult tree flings them far out into the ocean, hence the species' name. From here, the seed can spend many months floating in the currents until it finally reaches the shores on another continent or island. During this time period, it remains dormant.
Once the rockscale touches the sandy shores that it generally reaches, it will remain in place for several weeks to even several months (depending on how far away the place of origin was, and if it has fully matured by this time). During this time many are fed upon by specially-evolved creatures, such as the Clawgrips and Skullbeaks of Southern Zeeon.
Once the rockscale has matured enough, it will sprout a small root-like system from below, and two small vine-like extensions. This is their second form, known as a Rockscuttler. In this form, the root-like system acts as a form of movement, while the vines act as a sort of feelers.
When the rockscale has matured fully, several sprouts will emerge from the tough, metallically-armored "shell" of the nut. All three of these extensions -- the whipping vines, the eyesprouts, and the roots -- are all capable of quick movement. At this stage, the organisms are known as Whipscales, and become a danger to various smaller species as well as a nuisance to even larger creatures, by using their razor-sharp whipping vines to whip at nearby foes to help deter potential predators. It is at this time that the whipscale balances itself upright on its roots, and makes the slow journey into the nearby forests consisting of their adult forms. A whipscale may take several days to find just the right spot with enough sunlight to allow it to photosynthesize, although they are capable of feeding off of organic matter such as meat by absorbing it slowly through their roots. Once they've found a spot, they'll use their roots once again to dig themselves into a small pit, where only their armored shell, vines, and eyesprouts will remain exposed. From here, they will become "permanently" sessile, and will only move should a fire blaze through the area, although this movement is usually unsuccessful, especially in adult forms which will almost always topple over from top-heaviness when fully uprooted.
As the whipscale grows older, it becomes more and more tree-like, with its shell forming the basis of the entire tree, and its whipping vines becoming embedded in the ground, wrapped around its own roots. These vines always face the opposite direction of the shore. At this stage, the whipscale becomes known as a Whiphusk, and becomes very trunk-like, with an almost bush-like appearance thanks to its many tiny leaves that begin to bud out of its top.
When a whiphusk matures enough, it finally becomes known as a Catapult Tree; the determining factors between whiphusk and catapult tree is leaf size and whether it is taller than it is wide. Catapult Trees are still capable of feeding off of live prey, but generally will only do so if they cannot produce enough food through photosynthesis, or if the soil is not rich enough for mineral extraction. They do this by uprooting themselves somewhat, creating a small habitat beneath them. Below here they have scent glands that produce special pheromones to attract a variety of creatures, all of which can become potential prey. The lower sides of the roots are covered in straw-like strands that work like hairs; once triggered by a quick succession of two taps to these straw-cilia, the tree will use its quick movement abilities to reroot itself, thereby trapping the creature beneath it like a veritable cage. It will then crush the creature and absorb its nutrients, leaving only a dry, withered, crushed husk of the now-dead animal..
Once the catapult tree has reached full adulthood, it begins to flower, allowing the local pollinator species to pollinate it. They are not picky, and any small pollinator will do. Once properly pollinated, the "flowers" will wilt and be reabsorbed while new rockscales will begin to form, using metal heavily permeated into the local soil to slowly build the armor plates along the seed's outer covering; if there is no metal in the soil, the rockscales will have little chance of surviving their place of arrival, unless no local predators exist, but they cannot ensure their seeds arriving in these locations. Once formed, the vines will slowly wrap more and more of themselves around the roots, pulling the tree itself closer and closer to the ground; the rockscales are generally safe due to the armor plates. These vines will then quickly be starved of nutrients, and will quickly wither and die over the next few days. They lose their strength to hold the tree in place suddenly, and snap -- sending the tree careening back to its initial position, sending the rockscales far out into the ocean to begin the process anew. With the vines destroyed, the catapult tree must reabsorb the remnants of the vines wrapped around their roots and then regrow them to allow for another generation to be created and properly distributed next year.