|A rikchik with height marked in reaches, feet, and meters. Reaches and meters are subdivided into blades and decimeters respectively.|
Rikchiks (ilpes sapiens) are intelligent creatures native to the jungles of the second planet of Alpha Centauri A. Their culture and language is described on the rest of this site. This page describes their physiology.
An adult rikchik generally stands about 7 feet high, though it can crouch down significantly or raise itself slightly. Its body consists of a spherical main section and 49 tentacles. Rikchik skin is a medium green color.
The main body, or "globe", is about 2 feet in diameter and contains most of a rikchik's organs including its large single eye. It has a hard surface - bonelike plates under the skin surface keep the body spherical. The only apertures are the mouth (used for eating, breathing, and elimination), which is surrounded by the tentacles at the bottom of the globe, and the eye, which is 90 degrees away on the front of the globe.
The above-mentioned bonelike plates are connected to a very simple skeleton, which mostly holds the plates in position. Other organs are packed into the globe - the heart centrally, the digestive system mostly surrounding the mouth, internal reproductive organs in front of the mouth, respiratory system in the upper back area, and the brain in the upper front and partially surrounding the eye.
The most notable difference in internal organs between humans and rikchiks is that many human organs that are split into two parts are unitary in rikchiks. Rikchiks have a single eye, a single lung, a single set of chambers in the heart, a brain that is not split into two hemispheres, and a single organ for generating reproductive material.
The rikchik eyeball is almost a foot in diameter, and takes up a little less than an eighth of the globe. The eye aperture is a constricting circle - a closed rikchik eye looks like a small point. Rikchiks have green irises.
The 49 tentacles include 42 "standing" tentacles and 7 "talking" tentacles directly below the eye.
Standing tentacles are of a uniform color and are about 1.5 inches thick and 5.5 feet long. They have a strong flexible center core of cartilage-like material, which is surrounded by muscle. The tentacle cores are connected to the lower globe plates, and can be chemically stiffened at will - rikchiks use this ability to sleep standing up without exertion, and constantly adjust the stiffness of their tentacles as they walk. These tentacles are strong enough to lift burdens or support the rikchik - generally about 15-20 tentacles are enough to support a rikchik's weight.
Talking tentacles are about half as long and start the same thickness but taper to half that as they shade to white at the tips. They're not as strong but are much more dextrous and are used both for fine manipulation and for the rikchik sign-language. (This means that they can't talk while doing fine manipulation, or at least will be less understandable, but have no difficulty talking and eating simultaneously.)
Rikchiks generally stand with their tentacles slightly curved. When awake, they bob up and down slightly - this helps with both respiration and depth perception.
If a rikchik loses a tentacle, it will regrow, slowly - up to a year to fully regenerate a standing tentacle, or two years for a (more complicated) talking tentacle.
Rikchiks consider themselves to have seven senses: sight, taste, globe-touch, tentacle-touch, pain, emotion, and environment. Notably missing is hearing - rikchiks are entirely deaf.
Sight: rikchik vision is similar to human vision in many ways. Their primary colors are close to ours. The average rikchik is slightly farsighted compared to the average human, probably due to the larger size of the rikchik eyeball.
Taste: this includes smell, as rikchiks can only smell through their mouths.
Globe-touch: touches to the rikchik's globe. Globe skin is not as sensitive as tentacle skin.
Tentacle-touch: sensitivity of tentacles is greater toward the tips, and talking tentacles generally have more sensitivity than standing tentacles.
Emotion: rikchiks have an ability to perceive emotions directly (humans would consider this a psychic ability). This sense is somewhat directional but does not have a high resolution.
Pain, Environment: rikchiks consider pain to be a separate sense, as well as perception of environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.
Rikchiks generally eat standing up, placing food into their mouths with their tentacles.
Rikchiks have an ability (and in fact a need) to digest certain minerals directly, by eating small rocks or other non-organic materials. This ability is widespread but not universal among the animals of their native planet. However, this special digestive system is unable to process meat with the same biology, making rikchiks biologically vegetarian. The rikchik diet consists mostly of fruit and nuts, giving them more energy than most Earth herbivores.
Rikchiks are a single-gendered species. Any rikchik can become pregnant and from one to six other rikchiks can contribute genetic material to the child. Genetic material is transfered from globe-skin to globe-skin during the equivalent of intercourse. A child gets half of its genes from its "parent" and the other half is a combination of genes from its "contributors". The rikchik egg effectively has multiple seed receptors, and begins to repel similar seed when each receptor has fertilized, so it is easier for a rikchik to get pregnant with more contributors. The child is carried near the mouth, the parent's globe deforming to accomodate it.
Rikchiks are born with a slightly smaller globe and barely visible tentacles, but the tentacles grow to about half adult length within a few years. They grow gradually after that, until their growth slows to almost zero at adulthood. Tentacle growth never completely stops, and very old rikchiks have noticeably longer tentacles.
Rikchiks are most comfortable in their native jungles, but they have spread across their planet. They prefer warm temperatures - most rikchiks never touch snow, and generally wear thick cloaks at temperatures below 60° F / 15° C. They also prefer high humidity and must keep their skin wet in dry environments.
Though 7-legged and 0-legged creatures are the norm in the rikchik biosphere, rikchiks belong to a branch of primarily forest-dwelling animals that have 49 tentacles. The "chimp" (ilpes arborealis) most closely resembles a rikchik, but has a non-spherical globe and does not have lighter-colored fine-manipulation tentacles. More distantly related are the "lumpy-beast" (glaebifer vastitaticolus) and the "roller" (sphaera sphaera et al.) which have 98 tentacles spread across their bodies.