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July 22, 2014 8:48 AM   Subscribe

With growing fascination for the large land vertebratomorphs that are so startlingly diverse on Tatooine, I secured Imperial funding for an expedition to Tatooine, to survey the exotic megafauna and search for fossils of Tyrannodraconis that might further illuminate their evolution. My ensuing report summarizes my trilogy of investigations and discoveries from this “holiday in the suns."

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After years of seismic ultrasound and magnetic macroimaging, my team was able to decipher the gross anatomy of the Carkoon sarlacc, albeit from a safe distance. I present it for the first time here, accompanied with archival droid imagery obtained from the Rebel War archives.
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The heat was forceful. We had docked the ship not long after sunsrise, and the temperature was already hovering near 40 degrees. By double noon, an additional 10 degrees could be counted on.

It was a dehydrating heat. The humidity of the air here is said to average 5.4%, with little variance about that value. In my homeland, humidity can reach 100%, as gentle showers nourish the land beneath.
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Predators play an important role in structuring ecosystems, with predator population declines being linked to a variety of negative ecological effects. Here, we present evidence that the planet Tatooine, famous throughout the Galaxy for being a desert planet, experienced desertification as a result of unintended changes in herbivore populations caused by the intentional large-scale killing of apex predators by offworld colonists. Fossil evidence and interviews showing traditional ecological knowledge suggest that once-abundant Krayt dragons were hunted to near extinction by early human colonists. As a result of the decline in predation, populations of large herbivorous banthas populations grew out of control and overgrazed the plants once found throughout Tatooine.
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The Working Group contribution to the TIPCC’s First Assessment Report (AR1) considers cumulative evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models. It represents a first concerted attempt to address the possible long term effects on the Tatooine geological and biodiversity systems, particularly as it pertains to the current unregulated practice of water mining.
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On Earth, we see Namibian desert beetles that harvest water from the fog that rolls in off the Atlantic Ocean, allowing droplets of water to condense on their forewings and flow into their mouths. Why couldn’t the massive, rideable Tatooinian lizards known as “dewbacks” do something similar?
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On Tatooine, there are krayt dragon, rancor, sarlaccs, dewbacks, banthas, among other animals. Our understanding of life requires water. On a planet with less than 10 inches of sporadic rainfall annually, how do such big animals get their water?
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Science writing aims to convey ideas, engaging and educating readers on topics from biology to astronomy. Because science writing is focused on real efforts to understand the real universe, you might reasonably ask why a collection of science writers have chosen to spend time and creative energy writing about imaginary animals from a planet that does not exist... The short answer is that in science writing, as with all writing, it’s easier to capture an audience’s attention if you have a good story to tell.
posted by ChuraChura (5 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very cool. Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:04 AM on July 22


This looks worth delving into tonight. Neat!
posted by Dip Flash at 9:06 AM on July 22


This is fantastic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:29 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Ha ha, from the article about the sarlacc:

While the earliest archival films of the Carkoon sarlacc taken from the ILM Institute’s Lucas expedition do not show evidence of the beak-like tongue or extensive tentacles, later ILM film observations clearly display a single central protrusion and tentacles extending approximately ten meters. Many interplanetary naturalists had accused the Lucas expedition of doctoring their later films to make the creature appear more fearsome, but my study corroborated the presence of the beak and tentacles, and that fear is warranted.
posted by marxchivist at 9:31 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Back in the day, Stan Lee would award a No Prize for things like this (albeit confined to the Marvel Universe.)

The rules were that you had to identify a story problem, and *then* come up with an in-universe explanation.

No Prizes all around!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:20 AM on July 22


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