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Apr 2016

Daemon Fauna – Dune Hopper

Posted by / in Fan Art, Science / 21 comments

[Read Daemon Fauna – Introduction]



Simulation HK00183

Dipodomys gigas, aka “Dune Hopper”

Traditional grazing animals (sheep, cattle) are either extinct or poorly adapted to thrive in the current local ecosystem.  To raise amounts sufficient for human consumption requires levels of water resources unavailable at present, as well as overgrazing practices harmful to the fragile ecosystem as a whole.

My hope with the Dune Hopper is to capitalize on their innate water-conserving metabolism, increasing their size to that of the ancient Macropus, thus filling the niche of large grazing herd animal whilst avoiding some of their issues.

Obligate grazers, with a sophisticated gut microbiome to allow them to digest tough, dry grasses, and also facilitate plant growth via zoochory.

Found in family groups ranging between 10 to 20 members, typically where savannah or grassland meets desert.

Along with their ecological roles, should be a good source of protein and animal fibers for cloth production.



Initial simulations are promising, moving it to VB_001 for full testing, and entering it into the ex silico queue.

Dr. Havva Koçak


[Read next Daemon Fauna entry]

[art by Ethan Kocak of Black MudPuppy]


  • Ydo Ucare

    This sounds like a cool series. My inner bio nerd is excited to see more of these.

    One thought though. I’m no zoologist, but thinking about mechanisms kangaroo rats use to conserve water (things like uber efficient nephrons and taking advantage of metabolic processes), would those mechanisms really transfer over well to such a large size? I would assume that while that works great for small scale organisms that it wouldn’t be enough to sustain a larger creature. Although I suppose it wouldn’t have to be as good as the small kangaroo rat’s system as long as it’s still better than things like cows.

    • You’re totally right, that it wouldn’t be AS efficient at conserving water at that size. But with some designer genetics and a custom microbiome, these things have the best water preservation possible, to help them not need as much water as cows :)

  • Adriano


    • Delta-v

      Still hoping for Sandworms?

      • Giant rideable ones.

        • Adriano

          Which produce a substance increasing life’s expectancy of humans :D

  • Bellon

    The design does not look very good for me. It is a simple scaling up of a much smaller, nocturnal animal. Mechanically, the members and the tail are too frail: an efficient animal of this size should look much more like a kangaroo if you retain the idea of a hopper. But why not use the model of the camels, well adapted to dry ecosystems, which are present in this part of the world?

    Furthermore, in a world were large animals are extinct, the only predators dangerous for such animals are men: it is not interesting to be nocturnal to avoid predators, and such a large animal cannot use a hole to protect it from the heat of the days, removing another advantage of being nocturnal. Also, the eyes are unnecessarily large, when the tear film is an unavoidable point of water loss.

    Even if it makes for a nice picture, the idea of scaling up an animal by a factor near 1000 in size, and therefore much more in mass, looks really dangerous for me: evolution history has shown that it generally takes time to scale up animals (scaling down, up to a point, can be much more rapid). Locomotive efficiency is a major point for bigger animals, when survival may depend on the ability to reach a new patch of vegetation: it is really difficult to tune precisely on the drawing board: even if you are really intelligent, evolution is the way to hone all qualities.

    I would not like to seem too negative, since I really appreciate the story and the world into which it takes place, but I like when the fiction does not abuse of creative license.

    • Thank you for your thoughts :)

      You’ll note that (in story) this is all simulations being run by a specific scientist. An individual with specific tastes and goals, that may not align with what makes the most sense, actively engineering these lifeforms. Tie that together with (out of story) an artist who was given creative license to imagine new forms of life, and yes, they won’t all be perfect.

      You will also see in later installments that this same scientist DOES what to reintroduce predators, parasites, etc. A whole new ecosystem, really, since the only animals that mankind kept alive where the major food and livestock animals, letting the rest of the ecological diversity suffer.

      So, again, thanks for your thoughts, sorry if you don’t like it, but the fun part of writing fiction IS being able to take creative license. Especially in a situation like this where these are theoretical animals in a simulated ecosystem.

      • Amberlight

        I think I can dig up a few interesting and easy to watch videos on the topic of animal size, bone density to mass ratios, growth limiting factors and stuff if you are interested.
        Just as Bellon says, I enjoy the worldbuilding but I’d rather have it abide by the rules of science as much as reasonably possible.
        Speaking of opinions, why do you not use forum for crowdsourcing such kind of ideas? I’m sure there will be a lot of people willing to lend you a hand.

        • I don’t really have time to become a scientist of everything, and the forum is cool (when people post there), but sometimes it’s just fun writing things the way *I* want to. And since these are theoretical animals being simulated using advanced sci-fi genetic engineering, I really don’t mind if they aren’t “perfect”.

  • Honza Prchal

    There is also a bonus from size … it makes some things MORE, rather than less efficient. See Arctic and Antarctic land fauna. Those are extremely low water environments too.
    This is not to ignore the criticisms, but is to point out the tradeoffs.

  • Hornet

    I don’t think having a 1.5 meter rodent, especially one with dexterous hands, and rather curious even ingenious mentality running lose would be healthy for anyone.

    • Heh, I never said Dr Havva had HUMANS’ best interests at heart ;)

  • For doubters, some real life animals that are decently close to this THEORETICAL, GENETICALLY ENGINEERED animal. Good genetic source material too:

    Kangaroos, capybaras, caviids (, even ancient rodents (

    Whether this would evolve naturally, I doubt it. But some mad scientist lady is actively developing them to introduce into an otherwise empty niche (apoc killed all the animals, basically). Will they all be perfect, with no problems? Probably not. Will they be fun for me (and the designer/artist Ethan) to think and write about in the TDA universe? Yes. Yes they will.

    • Matt [in Middletown]

      “Josephoartigasia monesi” = guinea pig the size of a pickup truck.

      • Hornet

        I could see domesticating those. It’d be little different than facing a 1500 pound bull. Just with a lot more hair.

        • Matt [in Middletown]

          Wonder if it “wheeked” like a guinea pig.
          For some reason I cannot fathom, I feel that would be rather horrible.
          Likely, any vocalizations the huge gunea pig made would be like a capybara.
          Capybara being get another huge gunea pig.

  • Ian Brown

    nifty, significant flaws and bonuses shown and discussed by others, but that doesn’t change how nifty it is.

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