Creature Concept: Copterbug

This article was sent to us by Christmas Snow. Thanks for keeping the Alien August momentum going!

The copterbug is an alien which has evolved on Venus.

The planet had enough water to sustain life in hydrothermal vents full of sulfuric acid. When the sun gave its first light, its luminosity was roughly 75% of that today. The sun has gradually increased its luminosity to a more-or-less stable level, but that new level proved too bad for Venus. The oceans have filled the atmosphere with vapor, a greenhouse gas, which increased heating even further and caused more evaporation. The water was no longer able to dissolve carbon dioxide and it remained in the atmosphere and increased both temperature and atmospheric density. The hydrothermal vents have given rise to heat-resistant bacteria (extremophiles) which thrive on the sulfuric-acid rich vents. When these vents dried-out, the bacteria have been carried to the clouds by the dense atmosphere, finding refuge in the sulfuric acid clouds. Now they sustain themselves using sulfuric acid as a solvent, and are no longer in need of water. The new bacteria have eventually developed photosynthesis.


The new oxygen-breathing organisms never had enough water or sulfuric acid to terraform the atmosphere, so they retained the oxygen in bladders, which serve as buoyancy bladders and gradually were able to support and sustain larger and larger organisms which have evolved. The atmosphere’s super-rotation gives roughly 60 hours of day and 60 hours of night, so all organisms consume the oxygen in their bladder during the 60 hours of night. It is not unusual, therefore, to notice that both plants and animals are able to photosynthesize, and atmospheric conditions have exempted all animals from developing warm blood, therefore saving energy even further.

The copterbug is one such animal. It is an herbivore whose natural history and biological details explained below. It thrives inside the oxygen bubble created by the “dish tree”, a tree that floats in the upper cloud deck (where temperature is not too high), using an oxygen bladder.

This description is a part from a bigger project which I’m writing about how life on Venus could have evolved. The complete project will be brought when completed.


It is believed they belong to a clade which has diverged from plants in early evolution. Their last common ancestor with the mini-balls, has lived before mini-balls have evolved. The ancestor has adopted an elongated cigar-shaped hollow tube which stores oxygen it produces by photosynthesis. Reproduction is via spores just like plants but the creature moves like an animal, thanks to the side-fins. The front part has a ring of feather-like organs which could sift dust particles to extract minerals while on the move. It has earned the name “Fan flyer” because of its resemblance to an electric fan. This method of food-sifting turned-out very successful, but came with a price tag: A more active body needs more oxygen. The earliest strategy was to conserve energy by turning to plant material. Grazing is less energy-demanding than sifting dust minerals, and more light energy is diverted into oxygen production. With time, the creature has evolved into diverse other creatures which are listed below.


Copterbug: To give a sturdier body, the buoyancy bladder (holding the oxygen) has given more space to support an armada of muscular limbs. The limbs have evolved to serve both as legs (inside the dish-tree’s leaf) and wings (thanks to their flattened limbs resembling an aerofoil). Most have retained their ability to photosynthesize, but must seek refuge in the dish-tree leaves when drifting into the dark side. Their breathing membrane forming the walls of the gas bladder has evolved into a membrane with many folds to provide greater surface area, and serve as a lung.

Planet Salsola

SEE ALSO: Planet Salsola – also written by Christmas Snow

They rely on flight by wings rather than lighter-than-air lift. They fly when they move from one plant to the other, relying on their oxygen reserve and avoid long distances. Their spore-bearing organs have evolved to lay eggs instead. Male and female bugs have learned to enter the leaf through the vent hole located at the underside. (The vent hole avoids pressure differences which cause the leaf to rupture). The female lays eggs on the inside of the leaf. The eggs are fertilized externally, as is the case with fish and amphibians on Earth. During their early days, the hatchlings do not venture to the outside world. They feed on the interior without rupturing the outer shell of the leaf, and venture out when their food is depleted, in search of new leaves.

The copterbug is 60 cm tall. Each limb possesses a suction cup to hold-on to the underside of a leaf when walking outside, and three claws for territorial fights. Males fight over territory when they scout on the outside or search to enter through the vent hole, but often fight intruders on the inside. A fight is to the death: The males attempt to rupture each-other’s membranes, compromising buoyancy and ability to hold oxygen while foraging to new territories.

Written and Illustrated by Christmas Snow.