The planet Dynae was once a haven of biodiversity and flourished with life. Various species were introduced and hybridized for life on the world. However, The Great Cataclysm of Dynae would change all of that. Explosions would release harsh compounds into the air and alter the planet’s water cycle. A carefully cultivated balance of nature was turned upside down. With seas turned to salt flats, plains turned to dust bowls, and many forests either burned or petrified, there are few places for life to thrive even with recent miracles of atmospheric conditioning.
Most large mammals were lost during the calamity as the result of a cascade of extinctions tied to the loss of various grasses. Large herd animals, their predators wolves, big cats, and as well large lizards all died off or are extremely endangered. However, few species of small mammals, reptiles, and birds still survive on the fringes.
Despite the tradgedy of the cataclysm, the world is not a uniformly barren rock. Various climate zones and biomes are home to several forms of life either hardy enough or simmply lucky enough to survive.
Polar and Boreal
In the far north and south poles of the planet ice caps blanket the area with white snow and in the adjacent regions boreal forests are preserved. In this area a handful of evergreen tree species with their thick iron-like bark and hard needles are able to weather the harsh atmosphere. Here a handful of birds and small mammals live in the ice and trees.
- Kārearea - A boreal falcon found in the southern hemisphere with an iconic white-tail.
- Ookpik - A large polar bird found in the snowy environs of the northern pole. Also known as the Great Northern Owl, the Ookpik would be a competitor to the Karearea, but is separated by thousands of kilometers of desert, badlands, and briny sea.
- Tiriaqpak - Also known as the Banded Polar Weasel, it is a small omnivorous mammal with dark rings around its long body and small tail.
- Ukalik - A small rodent which undergoes seasonal polyphenism changing its coat from a cinnamon brown in the summer to snow-white in the winter.
Grasslands and Savannah
The Pākihi are regions of grassland or savannah in temperate regions. This climate zone was historically one of the most biologically diverse and was home to several large herd mammals and their predators but few grasses, such as Karamea have survived as a staple food source for herbivores.
- Dynaean Starflowers - One of the few remaining flowering plants found in Dynae’s temperate zones. These daisies have deep roots, woody stems, and five golden petals which resemble a star. At twilight, a field of these flowers often resembles a child’s drawing of the stars above.
- Karamea - While most grasses died off in the initial cataclysm, with many more following suit as bushfires and biological decline ravaged to plains, the karamea or spear-grass, was uniquely adapted. It exudes a strongly scented sap which along with drawing in pollinators, neutralizes several of the harshest compounds found in the planet’s atmosphere. This plant forms a tuft of spear-like leaves, each up to 1 m long, and a large flower-stalk up to 2 m high, the head of which is covered with long sharp spikes.
- Mauihi - A generic name for many burrowing rodents and insectivores found in the grasslands. They make homes underground to escape the harshest of conditions.
- Nākahi - A venomous viper with S-shapped markings on their scales. They hunt their prey by coiling themselves up and unleash an explosive strike in the blink of an eye. What creatures they can’t stun by the initial impact are weakened by their venomous bite.
- Ōtiri - A meter tall brown and white flightless bird which strides across the savannah. Climatic shifts cause Otiri to become opportunistic omnivores.
- Tower-Building Termites - In former forests, one can find the signature dirt pillars of termite mounds. The bugs build these tall structures as they breakdown and consume the surrounding flora. Once the termites deplete the local area of food, they move on to the next grove leaving an empty tower behind. Over the years, surviving colonies have shifted away from a purely wood-based diet and expanded to include the limited grasses available to them
The ancient sands of Koraha Desert and Taukau Desert are home to several well adapted creatures and plants. With much of the planet turned to badlands several species native to the desert have flourished in other inhospitable places.
- Dortoka - Also known as The Homesteader, the Dortoka are related to tortoises. A slow mover, the dortoka rests during wind storms and the midday heat, hunkering down in the dirt exposing only its boulder-like back. They are famed for how long they can persist in harsh conditions without food or water. Dorktoka durable exoskeletons are prized by survivalists as makeshift hovels to escape the elements.
- Hikutimo - With its large claws and venomous stinger the Hikutimo is able to fell prey up to ten times its size. Scuttling across the dunes, it is best to avoid these creatures lest you feel its fiery poker of a tail.
- Hyrndur Dreki - A small reptile covered in spiky scales well adapted to the desert.
- Kåpaorm - The hooded snake, known as a Kåpaorm, to locals is a type of spitting cobra. However instead of projecting venom, these snakes propel corrosive compounds derived from the atmosphere. While many species are adapted to withstand the planet's conditons, the intensity of the Kåpaorm's spit overwhelms many natural defenses.
- Kiore - Small nocturnal rodents related to Karamea that are native to the desert.
- TUVU - A species related to ancient earth’s turkey vultures, the TUVU is an imposing bird which serves a vital role in the biosphere. With an iron stomach, these birds clean the carcass of long dead animals and pave the way for new life. Their numbers have dwindled with the loss of many large animals, but they make quick work of any people who
The Tropics of Dynae consisted of large rainforests and idyllic island locations, however, much of these areas were burned or petrified in the cataclysm. In a few mountain valleys and secluded locations like the Hōkūpa'a Plateau, pockets of tropical jungle persist.
- Armiarma - A dinner plate sized web weaver which eats anything caught in its nets from insects, small birds, and bats. Their venomous bite delivers a potent anesthetic and turns the body of its prey into a slurry.
- Cassowary - Large flightless birds with a vicious temper and sharp bite, they survive in the few isolated jungles left on the planet.
- Mokomoko - A variety of skinks found throughout Dynae’s tropical regions.
- Ruru - A small brown or gray nocturnal bird found in the canopy of tropical forests. They predominantly eat insects and small lizards.
When the surface atmosphere was made toxic to most, life (including most of Dynae’s surviving population) moved uphill to the alpine regions. In the thinner but breathable air the biological diversity is most preserved but has been reduced by the expansion of cities and settlements in the mountains.
- Hipi Pikitanga - the last species of mountain sheepgoats and Får that survived in the high alpine regions of Dynae where people fled during the cataclysm. The rams dueling each other for supremacy by head-butting with bony plates on the top of their skulls.
- Kererū - Once city pigeons, Kererū are found nestled in cliff faces across the planet. Domesticated squab is a local staple in the mountains.
- Ratatosk - A ground squirrel found in the highlands which feasts on grains, nuts, and mountain berries.
Changes to the planet’s water cycle heavily salinated the waterways and seas of the planet. Ocean-going creatures were however largely unaffected by the shifts.
- Goana o te Moana - The sea monitor is a 2m long reptile found on many islands.
- Hai Mango - The largest fish in the oceans of Dynae.
- Karramarroa - 1 meter wide crustacean with six pairs of legs and strong grasping appendages.
- Marrazoa - An aggressive many-toothed fish that hunts almost all other creatures under the waves.
- Tuna Hiriwa - A shimmering grey tuna that is a prized game fish and Dynaean delicacy
Notable Extinct and Endangered
- Bluestems - A grass species which could grow up to two meters tall, and were the typical grass used to describe Dynae’s tall-grass prairies and savannahs. With the destruction of the atmosphere and rain-cycle, Bluestems were one of the first species of grasses to die off despite its adaptation to survive grazing, fires, and drought. Now gone, large grazing herbivores like Tatanka lacked their main food source and diedoff along with their predators. As well, without the plant’s root systems holding onto the soil, dust storms ravaged the region further plunging the biosphere into a deadly spiral.
- Dingo - A generic name for the many species of large predatory canines that hunted on Dynae before the cataclysm.
- Får - The Får, or common sheep, was raised in nearly all biomes of the planet for their wool, milk, and meat. However despite their ubiquity, they were highly susceptible to the violent compounds released into the planet’s atmosphere. Only their biological cousins, the Hipi Pikitanga, survive them.
- Goddi - A boreal ruminant with large antlers, sightings of these creatures are rare and are seen as good luck.
- Red Sedge - A tall grass which met the same fate as Bluestems
- Tatanka - A large wooly bovid that was once found in the grasslands of Dynae.