Animal Types

The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service uses certain terms to classify and describe the multitude of types of animals that may be encountered on one's travels.  These terms were originally used on IISS bulletins and local documents, but soon became a de facto standard for informational resources throughout the Imperium.


In addition to type classification, animals may also be described as having certain attributes related to their physical niche.


These are animals capable of flying through the use of wings, levitating gas sacs, or other mechanisms.  They are usually (but not always) capable of landing on the ground or liquid surfaces.


These are animals that live in liquid and swim through the use of fins, flippers, jets, or other mechanisms.


These are animals that live in liquid but are capable of emerging onto land.


These are animals that live in liquid but are capable of walking on land and of flying in the air.


These are animals that live in liquid and are capable of flying in the air, but cannot walk on land.


Animals which eat unresisting food are generally classed as herbivores.  While this usually means plant eaters, the definition here includes the eating of unresisting animals as well.


Animals which devote most of their time to eating.  They may be solitary or grouped in herds.  Their primary defense is flight, although such action may result in stampedes which could endanger anyone who gets in their path.  When forced to fight, they will fight fiercely until killed or routed.

Typical Terran grazers are the antelope and the moose.  The whale (which scoops krill from the sea as it swims through it) is also a grazer.


Herbivores which do not devote full time to eating.  They tend to be solitary.  Intermittents usually "freeze" when an encounter occurs, fleeing if attacked by a larger animal.  Sometimes an intermittent will attack in order to protect territory or its young.

Typical Terran intermittents are the chipmunk and the elephant.


Herbivores which pass the environment through their bodies.  Unlike grazers, which move to eat food, filters move a flow of water or air through themselves in order to gain food.  Generally, filters suck, trip, push, or pull anything (even animals) at close range into a digestive sac.  Many filters are capable of absorbing an animal up to twice their own weight.  Filters are solitary and generally slow moving if they move at all.

Filters can present a considerable danger if steps are not taken to avoid them; avoidance, however, is usually trivial if the traveller is well informed.

Terran filters are generally aquatic, such as the barnacle and sea anemone.


Animals which eat food without regard to its resistance.  The Terran bear, which will eat fruits and berries as readily as it will hunt for animals, is an omnivore.


Animals which display a greater tendency towards herbivorous behavior.  In most respects they are similar to herbivore intermittents.

Typical Terran gatherers are the raccoon and the chimpanzee.


Animals which display a greater tendency towards carnivorous behavior.  in most respects, they are similar to small or inefficient carnivore chasers.

Typical Terran hunters are the bear and the human.


The true omnivore, in the sense that it will eat anything and everything, does not distinguish its food and consumes all that it confronts.  Eaters present considerable danger since they do not avoid anything when encountered.

A typical Terran eater could be the army ant, when considering the swarm as a single organism.


Animals which prey on other animals by attacking and killing them in the face of resistance are carnivores.


Animals which kill their prey by attacking from hiding, or by stalking and springing, are pouncers.  Because of the difficulty of coordinating such attacks, pouncers are usually solitary animals.  Pouncers which have achieved surprise over their prey have succeeded in their basic aim and will almost always attack regardless of range.  Even if they do not surprise their prey, they sometimes may still attack; if they are themselves surprised, they will generally flee.

A typical Terran pouncer is the cat.


Animals which kill their prey by attacking after a chase.  They tend to be pack animals, so that the group can keep up the chase until the prey is exhausted.

A typical Terran chaser is the wolf.


Animals which allow their prey to enter a created trap wherein they are killed and eaten.  Trappers tend to be solitary and slow, but will usually attack any animal which enters their trap.  A trap will typically not wound or damage the trapped animal, but will tend to hold it trapped in order for the trapper to attack.

A typical Terran trapper is the spider.


Distinct from the trapper, which creates a trap for its prey, a siren also creates a lure to draw prey into the trap.  The trap is created in much the same manner as that of the trapper, but the lure entails additional consideration.

In most cases, the lure is specific to some native animal and often goes unnoticed by humans.  In rare cases, a lure is universal, perhaps a smell or a scent, or a mirage or beautiful configuration, which will attract travellers into a vulnerable position.  There are rumors of psionic sirens, but there are no currently documented cases.  Information on any universal sirens on a world are generally prominently displayed at ports of entry.

Typical Terran sirens are the angler fish and the venus fly trap.


Certain carnivores devote much attention to killing, apparently for the act itself, in a kind of blood lust.  Killers' reason (such as territorial defense) is replaced by a raw killing instinct.  Attacks by killers are fierce and violent.  Killers generally disregard the prey's size as a factor, and so are always dangerous to humans.

A typical Terran killer is the shark.


Animals which share or steal the prey of others, or that take the remains of kills, are classed as scavengers.


These are scavengers which establish their claim to food by frightening or threatening other animals.  Their standard procedure is to approach a kill and force other animals away by appearing to be a threat.

A typical Terran intimidator is the jackal.


These are scavengers which establish their claim to food by simply taking it.  They rely on their superior strength or size to allow them to hijack food because the other animals present cannot effectively object.

Typical Terran hijackers are the lion and the tyrannosaurus rex.


These are scavengers which take dead meat when it becomes available, often waiting patiently for all other threats to disperse before beginning.

A typical Terran carrion-eater is the buzzard.


These are scavengers which act constantly on all available food.  They reduce the remains of food after all other scavengers are finished with it by consuming bone and other leavings.

Terran reducers are all microscopic, such as bacteria.

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