Alien Earball

Continuing my series of speculative, dismembered body structures, here’s an “earball” — a combined acoustic and optical organ that’s a direct outgrowth of this creature’s brain.

One thing you’ll note is the phrase “brain array”. This creature’s got lots of little generalized information processing nodes. They connect to each other a certain amount of edited information; they perceive light and sounds, then confer with their neighbors over whether they’re sensing something similar. It’s a form of error correction, a system of sensation by committee. Like bees, the nodes take collective action in proportion to their degree of agreement.

The brain array is orange-yellow because that’s the color of coboglobin, an artificial (though here, naturally-occurring) hemoglobin-analog that uses cobalt, rather than iron, for oxygen transport. But one of the more exciting things is that it also allows for hydrogen transport. There’s a lot that can be done with hydrogen, so I think this critter might be doing something about combining other elements into complex organic compounds. It’s possible, even that there are hydrogen gasses that the critter breathes in, then stores the hydrogen for its other processes.


It might not look like it, but this body structure was inspired by owl eyes, which have several amazing features. The first is that they’re so big in proportion to the skull that there’s no room for them to have the rotating apparatus that ours do: they have to turn their whole head to change what they’re looking at, which is why their necks revolve 270° like they do.

They’re also integral to the owl’s hearing. Own ears, unlike the earballs here, are a separate organ, but the eyes intrude directly into the ear canal. The skull is shaped in many owls asymmetrically to grand parallax in two planes, rather than our symmetrical ears, which really only let us tell if a sound is coming from the right or left (though the outer ear changes the quality of the sound, allowing us to estimate when it’s coming from behind or in front.

The earball here doesn’t have a pupil. Instead, its “eyelip” closes like a hoodie to make a pinhole. As it gets narrower, focus is enhanced for both the visual and acoustic sensors; as it gets wider, it grands a greater field of view and narrower depth of focus. As it gets narrower, depth of focus increases.

The center of the sphincter can be almost anywhere on the earball, reducing the need to rotate the body around.

Pretty weird, huh? Support me so I can make more! You know who supports xenoglyph a lot? Jason Godesky’s Fifth World project, which is just gorgeous.

The only Solarpunk RPG I've ever seen.

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