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Lesser Ionans is the collective term for the six genus of non-sentient invertebrates that inhabit Jupiter's moon Io, and their species. Sometimes they are referred to as Ionan Arthropods, but not all contain the requirements necessary to be classified in the same group as Earth's Arthropoda. They are part of the seven-species ecosystem there, and provide food for the very much sentient Greater Ionans. Most are primarily underground-dwelling creatures, like the Greater Ionans, but will come to the surface occasionally. Squillaterram is the exception, as all species are solely surface dwellers. In this article, the six genus are presented with the names given to them by human scientists, with Ionan names, where known, provided by individual species.
Literally, "Shrimp on Land", these large crustacean-like creatures are the primary source of meat for the Greater Ionans. There are three species, all of which are surface-dwellers. The body is segmented and about 18-24 in. (46 -61 cm) in length counting the long antennae, and the overall shape is that of a very fat pill-bug, with a remarkably shrimp-like narrow head with four antennae and compound eyes on stalks. The mouths have piercing parts and the front pairs of legs have small grasping pincers. They have fourteen pairs of legs and are fast runners and voracious, cannibalistic predators - hence most other Lesser Ionans remaining underground to avoid them. They are also scavengers, feeding on carrion of their own species and that of other species who wandered out and did not make it back to shelter. They will dig for prey as well, but are not burrowers. Their shell is very tough, and they are capable of withstanding extreme heat. Their coloration is such that they are nearly impossible to see at times and their presence is usually denoted by the sound of loud scrabbling. One species has been introduced to Titan but only as a farmed animal.
- S. austrailis - Found only in the southern hemisphere of Io, primarily deep brown in color and having a proportionally much larger head than other species, nearly the same size as all the rest of the body combined. Ionan name: Z'kuailw (zeh'KWA-il-yoo)
- S. radii - the least abundant species. Notable for being black in color, living exclusively near volcano zones, and having an unusual, faint and iridescent radial pattern on their shell. Ionan name: (Z'kuail'libn (zeh-KWA-il-LIB-en)
- S. vulgaris - the largest and most abundant species, matching the type description the closest. Usually sulfur-yellow in color and longer-limbed, giving them a speed advantage. Preys upon the other two species, and most other animals smaller than itself. This species is actively farmed by some Ionans and has been introduced to Titan. Ionan name: Z'kuailli (zeh-KUA-ill-ih)
Sometimes all of these species are collectively called "squillas" by humans, which is a mix of their Ionan and scientific name, and a few Ionans have begun to use the term.
Only one extant species remains of this genus of scaly worm, as the other was hunted to extinction by Greater Ionans, which so disrupted the ecosystem for a time it prompted subsequent conservation efforts of the remaining species to take its place, and prevent any such thing happening again. They are a primarily underground dweller, preying upon Mollornatorchis and Velglobulous mostly, but also eating carrion of other species. Illusoiovi do come to the surface occasionally in search of mates, but cannot be exposed to outer elements for long. Their name comes from the fact their myriad color pattern, which is primarily oranges and reds with a little white, seems to copy the whorls and stripes of the planet Jupiter (Iovi being Latin for Jupiter). They typically range from 7-9 in (18-23 cm) in length but can be far smaller. The body is covered with scales arranged in plates, and they possess retractable eyes like slugs and snails. The underbelly plates are dull silver in color instead of in an iridescent whorl and stripe pattern.
- I. argus - The only extant species, described above. Ionan name: Yur'nwa (ee-ur-NEW-ah)
- I. planus - Extinct. Had a very flat body like a tapeworm and no silver underbelly, but otherwise identical. Ionan name: Unknown, may have been the same
The most varied Lesser Ionan, creatures of the Gladiatorii genus are primarily cave dwellers, who occasionally burrow but prefer to stay in open underground areas, only digging or going to the surface to hunt prey. Like Squillaterram, they are cannibalistic, feeding on others of the same genus. They are strictly carnivorous, and only scavenge at rare intervals, preferring to hunt. They almost always hunt in small packs. The name comes from their singularly warlike and frightening appearance, and the fact they are fiercely competitive and territorial with other species, killing sometimes just for the sake of fighting and then caching the meat for later. They are very similar in appearance to the extinct Anomalocaris from Earth, down to the grasping organs on the head and the radial mouth. However, they posses four of these grasping organs instead of two, the eyes are flush to the head instead of on stalks, and the flat fin-like body is somewhat hard and shell-like, and possesses many small legs beneath. These creatures are the only lesser Ionan not regularly eaten by Greater Ionans for food, for the spikes on the grasping organs are highly venomous - fatal to prey, and to young or newborn Ionans and even adults if enough stings are given. However, the flat body can be consumed quite safely if the head is removed. There are five species.
- G. auroris - the largest, and the rarest. Some disagreement exists as to how many are left but the number is certainly not more than a couple hundred. After the Greater Ionans finish evacuating Io, however, it is suspected they will become the new apex predator in the ecosystem. Translucent white in color. Can measure up to 34 in (86 cm) in length. The only creature on Io besides Greater Ionans that can catch and kill a Squillaterram vulgaris, usually by ambush from a cave mouth. Attacks Greater Ionans in packs when possible but usually can be heard coming. Ionan name: Aubnxi (AW-ben-cheh) or sometimes just Aubn (AW-ben)
- G. poculum - the smallest species, measuring about 5 in (13 cm) in length. Solid black in color. Never comes to the surface at any time - one on the surface is invariably dead and brought there by a hunter that dug it up. Eats mostly Velglobulus and Mollornatorchis species. Ionan name: Aubn'imb (AW-ben-EHM-ba)
- G. familiaris - the type species and the most venemous. Measures about 9-17 inches (23-43 cm) in length and is translucent yellow-orange in color. Usually preys on G. poculum and Illusoiovi argus, but eats other animals as well when need arises, including Greater Ionan eggs and young and even adults when packs are big enough. Ionan name: Aubn (AW-ben)
- G. ovacomedet - unique in that it preys upon Greater Ionan eggs and young, exclusively. The spikes on the grasping organs are much harder than other species, and the grasping organs are far longer in length than most species, and are used to pierce the very tough leather of the eggshell. Also the least venomous species, relying on asphyxiation to kill its prey. Measures 13 in (33 cm) in length when full-grown. Brownish-yellow to brown in color, semi-translucent. Ionan name: Aubnbuak (AW-ben-wak) or just Aubn (AWB-ben).
- G. percute - The only member of the family to spend significant amounts of time on the surface, and the only member of the family not to possess spikes on its grasping organs, instead having a single huge barb at the tip of each one. The legs are longer, proportionally, than other species as well. Solid brown in color, measures about 8 in (20 cm) in length. Thought to prey on Ossaculum brunius due to dead O. brunius being found showing barb marks, but not much else is known of its habits. Ionan name: Unknown
The name means "little ball of fur" and is one of the best descriptions of these creatures available. Only one species, Velglobulus velglobus, exists. They usually are about the size of a baseball or tennis ball and are a creature of a sea-urchin type, almost completely spherical in shape. They have two primary eyes and ten tiny ones in a cluster at the front of the body, all with rudimentary lids, hidden mostly by the millions of soft, non-venomous tiny spines that resemble fur. They have 12 tiny suction feet on their underbelly, allowing them to very slowly creep along. They also travel downhill by tucking their feet in and rolling, and feed on fungi, lichen, and dead plant matter, their mouthparts being in a suction cup-like structure between their front pairs of legs. To feed, they suction onto their food and secrete strong digestive saliva, which cannot harm flesh but can break down plant material reasonably quickly. Their excreta makes excellent compost, as well. Greater Ionans consider them mostly to be pets, as they are fairly intelligent, easy to care for, playful, useful, and capable of showing affection. Feral ones can form huge colonies and become garden pests, however, if not dealt with. When first hatched, they are no bigger than the head of a pin and dark grey, but by the time they are six weeks old they have reached half their adult size and the female's fur turns yellow or cream, and the male's light grey or white. This animal was introduced, as pets, to Titan, as part of the bargain - the Titanese enjoy their companionship as much as the Ionans do. Ionan name: Ffinra (FIN-ra)
Two species make up this, the only soft-bodied Lesser Ionan genus. Mollornatorchis are fungus and bacterium eaters, and are extremely small, most measuring less than 1/2 an inch (1 cm) in length. They are also the primary prey of Gladiator poculum and Squillaterram radii, though practically all predatory creatures on Io will eat them. They are extremely abundant, the only difference between the two species lying in range and color. They dwell on the surface and underground with equal frequency. They are essentially formless, eyeless slugs with seven to ten bristly hairs on the anterior end of the body. They breed very rapidly, almost always found in groups of thousands if not tens of thousands, and occasionally groups combine to be in the millions - this rapid breeding is the only defense against extinction they have. They are believed to be eaten by every species on Io except the Velglobulus.
- M. tenebris - dwells exclusively on the dark side of Io. Dark greyish-purple in color. Ionan name: M'bxii (im-BIK-chih-ih)
- M. luxor - dwells exclusively on the light side of Io. Light pinkish-brown in color. Ionan name: M'bxii (im-BIK-chih-ih) It is considered a subspecies by Ionans, not separate species.
The name literally means "Bag of Bones" and refers to the naturally emaciated look of these unusual and highly rare creatures, exclusively burrowers that never enter caves or come to the surface and have to be dug out by predators. Only one extant species, O. brunius, exists - fossil records show at least seven extinct species but they have yet to be properly categorized. They are heavily armored centipede-like creatures with a more vertebrate-shaped head despite the fact they are invertebrates. The way the plates of their bodies are arranged, they bear the look of a barracuda skeleton with the fins removed, coated in thin brown skin stretched tight over the bones. What would be the fish skeleton's "ribs" are in fact the creature's legs, in two rows down the body, with two greater, longer legs with claws at the tip at the front, which they use for burrowing. They are typically 12-14 in (30-36 cm) in length but can grow larger. They are considered very good eating, and a delicacy, by the Greater Ionans. Their own eating habits are unknown because of their rarity, but it is presumed because of the teeth they are predators. Ionan name: L'uwx (luh-EWCH)