Taxonomy: Tyranus Arborus
Home planet: Everest
Length: 6 meters
Height: 2 meters
Skin coloration: brown to speckled green
Eye color: Yellow
Feeding patterns: Solitary Predator
Planet: Everest (galactic sector 108.279.162)
The first settlers in the heavily forested regions of the planet Everest found more than the fresh start they were hoping for; mechanical failures, disease, and aggressive extraterrestrial wildlife all took their toll on the human visitors. However, one species represented such a significant threat that warships began plotting mass orbital drops for high altitude bombs, guiding the devastation onto major nesting centers in a misguided attempt to control the population.
Known today as the Tree-Stalker, Canopy-Wolf, or most commonly by the citizens of Everest as a Skreak (for its distinctive high pitched mating call). It is the apex predator in a biosphere known across the universe for deadly wildlife.
This aggressive treetop predator hunts landlocked prey from the branches of its densely forested home. Its birdlike feet are made up of thick opposable digits, designed to dig obsidian claws deep into the canopy branches, lending the Tree-Stalker a near unbreakable grip as it prowls its three-dimensional hunting field. When stalking prey the Canopy-Wolf is nearly invisible, able to reduce its profile by hugging tightly to tree limbs as it moves. With its eyes closed the Stalker's red colored head resembles a native form of hanging fungus.
The creature possess a flexible spinal column, socket joints, and swift powerful limbs that let it swim effortlessly through otherwise impassible tangles of branches. Its patterns of movement were ominously described as "Nightmare Quick" by Xenobiologists in the "Guide to Everest Wildlife: The Biology of Death"
Moving gracefully through the trees the Stalker will stop suddenly when it spots prey, bracing its strong limbs against the branches and expanding its retractable neck. An adult can fully extend its head up to an additional 7 meters away from the body to snatch prey. The creature's body will remain stationary and firmly rooted while the head reaches for the target, spearing the victim with its forward facing teeth and using its strong mandibles to pull the unfortunate animal (or human) into the large mouth. The neck will then rapidly retract, its dense musculature pulling the food up with it.
The Stalker will then climb to the highest reaches of the canopy to digest its meal in solitude.
Tree-Stalkers breed in large numbers, but their short lifespans (only 3 Earth years) and aggressive competition for limited prey keeps the planet's population at manageable levels.
Only a month after birth a Tree-Stalker juvenile is required to hunt on its own. The "pups" mature swiftly due to an unusually high metabolism and grow to adult size by their seventh month.
The ratio of brain mass to body weight of the average adult Tree-Stalker indicates a high order of cerebral activity, pattern recognition, and even communication skills. Their keen yellow eyes can see as clearly at night as in the day, allowing them to detect potential prey in multiple environments and to track it effectively.
A hungry Stalker can easily overpower and consume an adult human, and because of their ravenous appetites and potent metabolic requirements they often do. Even after attempts to reduce their population by destroying nesting clusters and poisoning food supplies, hundreds of casualties are reported each year (Although because of the many dangers on Everest casualties are difficult to attribute to any one source, the actual number of attacks is highly contested) as these intelligent predators sneak their way past modern mechanized defenses dispatching colonists at their leisure.
This species is highly dangerous, avoid at all costs. Visitors to Everest are advised to avoid venturing into regions of forest known to contain breeding populations, and to never leave the safety of the colony walls after dark.
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