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