Anola (Anola grevii)

An arboreal omnivore native to Pysadi (3008 Spinward Marches), occurring nowhere else in the wild or in captivity.  Anolas are considered holy by the Mother Church of Pysadi.  Their export, capture, or study by any but those high in the religious hierarchy is banned.  They are kept in special, heavily-guarded garden preserves and are cared for by specially appointed keepers.  Killing one of these animals is a capital offense.  Although anolas are occasionally encountered in the wild on Pysadi, those close to civilized areas have been taken into the preserves.

Anolas mass an average of 3 kilograms, and are usually between 50 and 75 centimeters in length, including their two prehensile tails.  Since anolas were known only from poorly preserved pelts smuggled off-planet, for many years there were thought to be three species, but as more complete specimens became available, it was determined that the three different types were only different sexual phases of one species.

Respiration is accomplished by paired lungs in the upper chest cavity.  The circulatory system is closed, with a pair of two chambered hearts moving the blood.  Gas exchange is typical, making use of an iron-based hemoglobin.  Details of the neuro-muscular system and the digestive system are not presently available.  Anolas are now known to be hermaphroditic, and the three phases are stages in sexual development.  Upon reaching maturity, an anola's male system becomes active, the female system remaining dormant.  Under certain conditions, the male system degenerates, glands for the nourishment of the young develop, and the male becomes a neuter, or parental.  Under certain conditions, the female system of a parental will activate, and the individual becomes a female.  Little is known for certain about the details of the reproductive cycle, but the following is currently the accepted sequence of events.

Anolas live in small groups.  Five adults is the average size, one male, three parentals of varying ages and one female.  Females mate soon after assuming the female phase, and soon bear a litter of three cubs.  The birth process is hard, and she is quite weakened from the ordeal for about three months afterward.  With each successive litter, the females become weaker, and few survive their third.

When the female dies, it appears that the lack of a certain pheromone triggers the female organs in the oldest neuter into activity, and that neuter becomes female within a few weeks.  The change in proportion of the parental pheromones causes the male to become a parental.  The group then seeks out a new male as rapidly as possible.

Each phase (male, female, and neuter) has its own distinct pattern of fur coloration, density, and length, caused by hormone changes associated with the shift in sex.

Several universities, zoos, and xenobiological institutes have offered substantial rewards for live anolas.  Wealthy animal collectors are reported to offer as much as Cr7,000,000 for a breeding group (five adults, as outlined above).

-TA ld