Super Water Bear by Xenosmilus

Super Water Bear

Xenosmilus

12 June 2019 at 17:06:10 MDT

250-600 million years into the future, what kind of animals may be loping around?

This imagines one to be a giant carnivorous water bear, or tardigrade. Now big as a bull, this carnivore has a thick leathery "shell" for hide, lots of fat rolls and loose skin that is tough as the toughest leather today, fleshy green growths from it's back that look like plants to help it camouflage, and the big arms are now weaponized.

It has 8 limbs. When it comes to the arms, it walks on it's knuckles like a ape, with the huge clawed fingertips turned up so to keep the claws sharp. Each finger claw serves a different purpose, one for soft-skinned prey, one for tougher prey, and the last finger claw for self defense when swiping outward.
The face and head is delicate and mostly just gristle, water, muscle, bone, and softer skin. So when attacking or defending itself, it tucks it's head inward like a turtle. The huge fat rolls covered in super tough hide bulge out over the head like armor shield doors made of super tough leather, shell, and fat. This can make it look headless until it feels safe enough to stick its head out, or eat. Even when blinded like this, it's super long whiskers and sense of smell and vibration can help it see it's attacker or prey well enough to swing at them with perfect accuracy.
The 4 middle legs are hooved and made for high speed running. When running at high speed, the arms come up off the ground and in a grab position.
The last 2 back legs are more grasshopper like, and made for kicking in self defense, or for giving the animal a little jump and burst of speed when ambushing prey. It can't run like four legged animals can, so to get the speed up, it needs to use it's back legs for a mini-jump to increase it's running speed. When running, it holds its back legs up off the ground in a grasshopper position. This makes it look like a horse with grasshopper legs on the back when running. When slowing down, it has perfect control of it's hooves to come to a comfortable stop. Or it can slam it's giant heel spikes into the ground and snatch itself sort of backwards.

The tongue and mouth are one organ. The mouth is only used for eating and drinking, and the head only for senses. When fighting or attacking, the head is pulled in and covered by fat folds covered in a shell strong as Mongolian leather armor. There are 4 eyes on the head - the right side is near sighted, the left side is far sighted.

But what kind of prey and dangers could it share future Earth with?
Maybe flightless bees who are big as dogs and have the intelligence of humans. And civilized crows who developed space age technology, but have no hands and use their beaks for everything and can't even imagine how a creature could ever use hands to build anything. And elephant sized mice who look identical to elephants today, except they have rounder ears. And huge jumping spiders the size of dogs, who evolved a herbivorous lifestyle and have monkey intelligence. And coastal ocean tribes of sapient octopi villages who have been living tribal and in harmony with nature for 80,000 years...

And maybe humans who have devolved into several animal-like species...

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