Life abounds on Mammon in a variety of highly developed forms. Biologists take greatest interest in its ocean life, because Mammon is the only planet on which evolution in the oceans proceeded along two distinct paths. This separate evolution created life forms that vary almost as much from ocean to ocean as they do from planet to planet. In fact, the origin of life in Mammon’s oceans occurred at different times. Biologists estimate that life in the Husaini Ocean may have begun as much as 200 million years later than life in the larger Xingu Ocean. As life evolved under similar physical conditions in both seas, the differences between the two ocean’s life forms furnish biologists with an important comparison by indicating which physiological characteristics have been caused by functions of the planet’s physical environment and which result from chance.
Life forms in the two oceans differ markedly. In the Xingu Ocean, well-developed vertebrates, similar to Earth’s bony fishes, flourish. These creatures take a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, from large predators ranging up to 2.5 meters long and weighing more than a ton, to fingerlings whose mature length is less than four centimeters. The Xingu also harbors less-developed forms that superficially resemble Earth’s mollusks and crustaceans.
The Husaini, in contrast, contains no fish-like animals. Creatures resembling Earth’s arthropods fill all higher niches in the food chain. Great lobster-like carnivores weighing up to 500 kilograms and measuring three meters from end to end attack their prey with claw-like pincers which can snap a Human limb or puncture a Human body like a skewer. One blow from their fast-moving tails also can be fatal. Observers have noted these monsters moving at up to eight kilometers per hour and swimming in the sea at more than 30 kilometers per hour! Their decentralized nervous system makes them difficult to kill, and they can regenerate lost limbs like Earth’s crustaceans. Fortunately, most species act quite timid, and, if given a chance, will flee from Humans. Very large monovalve and bivalve shellfish, resembling Earth’s oysters and abalone, also live in the sea. These creatures have been found up to two meters across and weighing in excess of a ton. Both the large shellfish and the smaller varieties taste delicious. Though they resemble Earthly varieties in texture and consistency, their flavors belong uniquely to Mammon.
Both oceans share some common life forms, all of which are warm-blooded, water-born animals that breathe air. In form they resemble the seals and sea otters of Earth, but they do not appear to be as intelligent or playful.
Biochemical evidence indicates that all land life on Mammon descended from creatures in the Xingu Ocean. Scientists believe this occurred because life started first in the Xingu, and thus Xingu forms first learned to adapt to the land. Once established on land, these species prevented the less developed species in the Husaini from intruding.
Land plants exhibit a wide variety of vascular forms, varying in size from short grasses to large trees. None of them resemble the angiosperms of Earth. Most reproduce by spores or seeds contained in cone-like structures. All land plants use green chlorophyl, so the foliage of the landscape appears green. Because no severe winters occur anywhere, virtually all known species remain green year round.
A class of warm-blooded four-limbed creatures comprise the most evolved animal forms on the planet. They bear more resemblance to Earth’s birds than to mammals, since most species lay eggs and no species nurse their young after birth. These creatures fill the ecological niches of carnivorous and non-carnivorous mammals, but no flying species exist. Most species have hair, though some hairless varieties wear a covering of reptile-like scales. They range in size from herbivores as small as field mice to ferocious predators – called “mashers” – the size of a horse. As on Earth, the largest animals don’t field the greatest numbers. Small animals with external skeletons predominate in a variety of four- and six-legged forms.