Fungal Hound by Eclectixx
Fungal hounds are tripodal, bi-tailed fungal/animal fusions; arising from a symbiosis of the two it represents an entirely separate branch of creatures. The fungal portions of the creatures completely account for all neural functions; reflexes, decision making, sight and other senses, as well as filling most digestive and respiratory functions. The animal portions account for all muscular functions. Light detecting “eyes” sprout from the creature on stalks, which can be replaced as needed. The frontal facial array senses movement and heat, as well as chemical traces (smell and taste). This creature is liquivorous, feeding on the vital fluids of its prey after using its potent venom to kill them.
Fungal hounds use three legs for locomotion; the hind leg is powerful and allows the creature to leap in almost any direction from a standing position. The two front appendages are used for balance and are also used to assist when running. They are also somewhat dactyl and can be used to tear into prey.
Two tails give the creature great balance during rapid turns and leaps. Small spines on the tails can be used for defense, but are primarily used for mating. All members of the species are capable of lodging spines in the flesh of other members of the same species in an act of procreation, but typically only the pack Alpha is allowed to do so lest they risk being killed in retribution. The spines, if lodged in the flesh of another fungal hound, will swell and feed upon the host much like a parasite, but unlike a parasite it also samples the host’s DNA and blends it with its own to create a zygote. A fetus then begins to grow within the spine, forming a cyst. Once the cyst has swollen fully and the embryo within reached sufficient maturity, the cysts split open and the young emerge.
If the spines are lodged in the flesh of any other species, they will swell and become inflamed and very painful. Eventually the creature will either dig the spine out or possibly die from infection, thus the spines are an effective deterrent to larger predators.
It is thought that this manner of reproduction evolved so that the fungal DNA may be passed along during mating as well as the animal DNA; however, only the impregnating creature’s fungal DNA is passed on in this manner, thus preserving the fungal ancestry along the Alpha member’s genetic lineage.