Description of a possible new artificial species

By leonardo maffi with help from Alessio "Scale" Scalerandi
Illustrations by Alessio "Scale" Scalerandi

V.1.3, Apr 20 2012

Keywords: furry, neomanta, manta, sharkmorph, shark, genetic engineering, genengineering, anatomy, physiology, artificial species, scale

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The nude sharkmorph Shiroko, husband of Shakara, is spreading some lubricant on the back of his Giant Neomanta Ray, that he rides. In few minutes they will race against other neomantas with their riders. The large numbers "21" are written with just some zinc oxide cream, and will be cleaned up after the race.

Both neomantas and shakmorphs are were created by human genetic engineering. Neomantas are mostly used for sports, but sometimes for work too, by humans and by some marine morphs. their cruising speed can't be compared to the speed of a good speedboat, but their fine underwater 3D maneuverability, intelligence and loyalty, make them useful for some underwater jobs too.

Their overall body shape is similar to the Giant Ocean Manta Ray, but many details are different. Their eyes are able to see much better, both underwater and out of water. Their tail is fitter for a higher speed cruising, and it's partially prehensile too, it's able to hold a human. Near the end of the tail there are two large spikes, usually used for self-defense against orcas or sharks, that are normally kept well safely shafted, to avoid the risk of hurting people, other neomantas, or other friendly life forms.

They have two holes on their back that allow two hands of the rider to hold on them, that close when not used, and warm up internally when in use. They have several hearts. They have two powerful hydrojets under them, near the roots of their "wings", that are used to reach the higher speeds. The large holes of the hydrojets can be mostly closed when not in use. They are able to move at high speed on water, but they can't keep the high speed for a lot of time, so the contest of Shiroko will last no more than thirty or fifty minutes. For long usage of the hydrogets the neomanta need to breath air, for short bursts the gills and the oxygen stored in the blood are enough.

The neomanta normally keeps partially retracted a breathing tube with mask (the tube is not actually able to raise up as an angry snake). When the hydrojets are turned off, the neomanta is able to open inside the large channels of the jets a wide group of gills, used to give oxygen to the mask (with some extra help from the oxygen already stored in the neomanta blood). The mask contains muscles and suction cups, so it's able to keep its position even on the face of an unconscious rider. The mask doesn't currently have anything to replace the glass. Sharkmorphs as Shiroko have some kinds of gills themselves, but they are not able to replace atmosphere oxygen fully.

The breathing appendage contains two tubes, because the breath of the rider gets scrubbed, cleaned, some oxygen is added, and then it's recycled. A neomanta doesn't contain scuba tanks, only air bladders to restart the breathing cycle few times.

The neomantas live several decades, eat plankton, various small fishes, and concentrated energy food given by their riders. They are partially warm blooded when they have a diet rich in calories (but the tip of their tails, wings and horns are kept at a lower temperature to reduce heat loss), reproduce almost as mammals (partially copied from some shark species, that give birth to living offspring), have placentas, and giving birth to only one or two newborns at once. Originally they were able to reproduce only with the help of the firm that created them, but several tens of years later their design has being modified and opened by biohackers and geneactivists.

Neomantas can't talk, but their intelligence is much higher than a manta, and comparable to a domestic, trained, faithful, and well mannered bottlenose dolphin, with some extra instincts added.

On the back of the neomantas there is a roughly rectangular zone, with sides about about twenty centimeters, where the skin is smoother, quite more sensitive to the touch, and able to change color with a higher precision than cuttlefish skin. It essentially acts like a touch screen, that allows the neomanta and its rider to communicate. The neomanta doesn't understand human languages, it's not sentient, and it doesn't contain a computer, so it's not able to write real words on its bioscreen, nor real sharp icons. So the use of the bioscreen is quite different from a tablet computer.

The bioscreen uses color blobs to give some information about the state of the neomanta, like its hungriness, how well she or he feels, pain or cuts, sexual state and desires, core and peripheral temperatures, its emotional state, like boldness or being scared by a shark or some other problem. The rider touches the screen and is able to give back information about his or her state, like tiredness, cold, or the need to avoid certain obstacles, or to ask the neomanta to go to a certain place or near certain objects, underwater too, expressing the hour too, to express the course. Celestial navigation is partially possible, the eyes of the neomanta are able to see and use the stars. The neomanta contain a precise biological clock, compass, they remember very well sea currents, the shape and color of the sea bed, the smell and taste of the different waters, the shape of the coasts, and usually they are well aware of their position. For a short time they are able to swim in freshwater too, usually to go in river estuaries.

They generally form, or try to form, a bond of trust and respect with one or few riders, and despite the bioscreen language composed of colors and forms is innate, during many years of interactions with the rider they often develops some specific expressive qualities, like a partial graphical slang that is shared only by a neomanta and its rider. Normally neomantas do their best to keep their riders alive and healthy.

Neomanta species © leonardo maffi.

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