Resochi

Scientific Name: Xenegathus resochii

Common Name(s): Mud Eaters, Funeral Fish

ResochiPhysical Description

Resochi are semi-aquatic mammals endemic to the mangrove swamps of eastern Verrogar. They are hairless except for the long whiskers around their nostrils, and have pale cream-pink hides with dark red-brown dorsal blotching developing in adulthood. They can grow up to 800 mm long and weigh roughly 10 kg. They have rounded fusiform bodies with dorso-ventrally flattened tails and two fore-flippers used for propulsion and traction through the mud and water. They have small, rounded heads with slitted ears and four complex eyes, two of which are forward facing with the other two set further back on either side of the head. They also have a slightly depressed ocellus on top of the head, used to gauge light levels while they are below the mud. An upward curved elongate shovel-like rostrum features protruding nostrils, with a wide jaw set further back beneath the eyes. Resochi are polyphodonts with pearlescent blue-green teeth that grow in three rows.

Diet

Resochi are primarily scavengers. They have been known to feed on seagrass and other seaweeds that grow in their region but seem to prefer the flesh of recently deceased animals. Their scavenging nature extends to the corpses of humans, which has led to their inclusion in local funerary rites (3). They will however, actively hunt Mangrove Pipehorse (Acentronura siucaensis), an endemic Sygnathid, a vital component of their diet without which they decline in condition (pers. obs.).

Verrogar doubleHabitat

Endemic to the estuarine mangrove swamps that border the Bay of Siuca in eastern Verrogar, they spend their days beneath the mud and emerge in the evenings to swim the shallow waters. Despite the prevalence of mangrove swamplands throughout the world the Resochi are limited to this area due to their apparent dietary dependence on Mangrove Pipehorse populations.

Behaviour

Typically nocturnal the Resochi will become more crepuscular with the waxing of the moon, presumably to avoid the brighter light. Sensitive olfaction allows them to locate rotting flesh from a distance, up to 5 km when currents are favourable (pers. obs.). Despite their usual solitary nature up to five adults have been witnessed (4) sharing the same meal before dispersing back to their individual territories, provided the corpse is large enough. Adult Resochi will hold a territory of roughly 1 km square.

Reproduction

Resochi reach sexual maturity at two years of age. After a mating season centred around early spring and 17 weeks of gestation, litters of one to three young are born in late summer. They actively rear their offspring for the first month of life, after which juveniles leave their mother’s territory to establish their own (5). While they do not mate for life, a successful Resochi pair will often breed multiple seasons in a row out of convenience.

Predators

Salt water crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are the main predatory force on the Resochi, as they often frequent the same muddy shallows and waterways. Sharks will prey on them opportunistically when the Resochi venture too far out into the offshore depths, while sea eagles will hunt any out in the open after day break.

Resochi skullThreats and Conservation

Despite their yearly breeding season and variable litter sizes few Resochi grow to maturity, restricting population growth under normal circumstances. They were extensively hunted by humans during the Zamei era when the trade in their pearlescent teeth was at its height (6). This led to a drastic decline in their numbers and the subsequent institution of legal protections (7). These protections helped them to recover, albeit slowly and in spite of the continued illicit trade which persists into modernity. Habitat decline began effecting them after 502 N.C.E. when the spice trade in east Verrogar reached new heights and human towns began encroaching on former swampland, taking their population down to roughly 35,000 (8). Regulations on the building and development of the region have been successful in curbing this trend, and recent estimates show the population to have grown to over 68,000 (9).

References

  1. Kiung X.B., Observation Notes on Xenegar Resochii, (316) Verrogar Biology, 3:9-12
  2. Yunsh J.A., (502) Xenegar Resochii Diet and Behaviour, U.V. Journal of Biology, 10(1):30-41
  3. Henke V.M., A. Ske D.T. (501) Funeral Practices of Verrogar, Journal of Anthropology, 23(2):7-29

  4. Yunsh J.A., T.M. Cyn (506) Communal Feeding Behaviours in Xenegar Resochii, A.C.E.J., 15(1):65-71

  5. T.M. Cyn, Coran S.E. (511) Xenegar Resochii Territory Establishment and Offspring Care, U.V. Journal of Biology, 7(2):85-112

  6. Nang K.E., F.L. Rosh (489) Analysis of Illegal Animal Artifact Trade, U.V. Journal of Trade, 3:8-13

  7. Verrogar National Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

  8. Yunsh J.A., Encha D.S. (509) Effects of Trade Expansion on Native Wildlife of the East Verrogar Mangrove Swamps, V.E.J., 11:21-33

  9. Yunsh J.A., T.M. Cyn (515) Population Recovery in East Verrogar, Post Environmental Protections, V.E.J., 20:3-11

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