Sunday, September 4, 2011

Creature Feature: Triops.

At some point in your life, you have probably heard of Sea Monkeys. Sea Monkeys are a hybridized, selectively-bred form of brine shrimp that does not remotely resemble the race of freakish anthros on the packaging:

At least they ADMIT to wanting world domination.

For those of us that want to breed something a little bit more intense than Sea Monkeys, there are a number of other types of shrimp that go into diapause - that is, they do not hatch until the water conditions are juuust right. This, for example, is a more Lovecraftian version of Sea Monkeys.

Triops shrimps - also called long-tailed or tadpole shrimps - are not the same sort of shrimp that you see at cocktail parties. They instead resemble mutant trilobites that somehow survived through the Carboniferous into the modern day. Triops shrimp have literally gone unchanged for 300 million years, and, even though we keep them in fish tanks today, they are probably laughing at us from behind the glass for being stupid whippersnappers. They can be found everywhere except the coldest regions of the world.

Eldritch horror in a box.

The same process that makes triops oh-so-marketable is also its key to success in the wild. The natural habitat of triops is temporary ponds. They can only live that sort of life by making their eggs go into diapause every time the puddles dry up. In this state, they can survive extreme temperatures up to 98 degrees Celsius (ALMOST boiling water- think about that) for 16 hours. All they have to do is wait for it to rain until they can grow, quickly breed, and die after the water leaves.

The name "Triops" literally means "three eyes." Yes, they do indeed have three eyes. Nowhere says this better than the perfectly silly song by They Might Be Giants, complete with some cool videos of Triops in action.

Triops are easily available online from They originated from a doctor's stock. He was studying their amazing diapause abilities. In theory, they could stop aging and possibly lead to the Fountain of Youth. Also, y'know, dealing with Cthulhu's underlings is a lot safer than messing with any cnidarians that actually do have eternal youth. We would rather deal with shrimp that definitely die than hydras and jellyfish when it comes to looking young and pretty all the time. Yep, that makes a lot of sense.

When Homo sapiens sapiens goes extinct, the Triops will still be here. Y'know, if the world has not become a swimming pool by then.  Even then, they will probably be only a diapause away from world domination.

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