I discussed the Epona project in this blog recently, and stated that it was at its time the biggest and best-developed world of fictional biology. Here is a surprise; it might very well still be the biggest such project! The problem is that most of it was only visible to the few people taking care of the project, among whom Greg Barr was one the people holding it all together. The website never showed more than the beginning of he project, and did not even discuss the major life forms and their physiology. The good news is that part of the old website has now been restored (it was damaged by a virus or a hacker). So take a look there, and let's hope that more of the wealth of Epona data will yet appear for all to see.
Meanwhile, I can discuss a few glimpses. There is a Kingdom Myoskeleta. These organisms do not have a sketelon, neither on the inside nor on the outside. What they have is a set of extensile muscles without joints. That is right, extensile muscles, not contractile ones. There were no bones, hence no joints. By expanding on a specific site in a thick muscle rod, the rod could bend, stretch or spiral in any shape desired. This was no mean feat; the limbs of any creature with such extensile muscles acted a bit like tentacles. I remember writing a critique on these muscles along the same lines as later reappeared in this blog: there were four blog entries called 'Why there is no walking with tentacles': one, two, three and four. If you read them, you will find that I made a case for the development of joints in any limb destined for serious weight bearing. I think that the arguments hold for tentacles of any type, with contractile or extensile muscles. By the way, I thought that extensile muscles could perhaps be made to work in a roundabout manner, but that is perhaps something for another day.
The myoskelata basically consist of a barrel with a set of limbs at either end. There are five of these limbs, and in principle they branch into three 'fingers'. Here is such a basic organism:
The Myoskeleta are divided into two phyla: the Myophyta, plants for all practical purposes (the other phylum is the Pentapoda; they're animals). Take the basic shape, drop one end into the ground to act as roots, and span a membrane between the five limbs: that is a basic Pagoda Tree. If you add a similar layer ('tier') on top of it, you understand the tiered appearance of a pagoda forest. You will be able to recognise this fivefold symmetry for most of the plants shown on the cover of the recent book on how to grow Eponan plants (see the Hades Publishing page on the Furaha website).
In principle these 'trees' can still move a bit, for instance to direct their leaves towards the sun. Intriguing, aren't they? I will add a few images of such Eponan forests. They are in development together with Steven Hanly.
Ah yes, I showed an image of a flying animal in the previous post. It was modeled by Steven, and is a pentapod, meaning its basic anatomy is similar to that of the trees it flies over. The species is a Uther, and it is intelligent. Life on Epona has developed intelligence, unlike Furaha (and the reason why there are no 'sophonts' on Furaha deserves mention on its own, one day).