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Here at Get Trekucated, we always save the best for last. And believe it or not we haven't covered our next subject. If you think animals of Star Trek, this entry's the most recognizable. And thanks to recent developments in the Star Trek universe, we know more about these creatures.
We're talking about the Tribble, devourer of quadrotriticele and stealer of hearts.
The Tribble, scientific name Tribleustes ventricosus or Polygeminus grex, is a small, unintelligent lifeform from Iota Gerinorum IV. Little more than a digestive and reproduction system wrapped in cute, cuddly fur, the tribble is known for creating disaster during its unchecked breeding.
It wasn't always that way... maybe. There might be some confusion to that. Earliest human encounters with the tribble start in 2153, when Doctor Phlox brings a few on board to feed his pets. (ENT Season 2, Episode 21, 'The Breach')
Keep in mind that there was no mention the tribbles were prolific breeders at this time. This becomes very important as we go to the origin of the tribble's ability to go forth and multiply.
Turns out the tribble bred rather slowly. Lieutenant Edward Larkin, a scientist on board the USS Cabot, researched ways to speed up their reproductive process as a way to provide a plentiful source of protein. (Short Treks Season 2, Episode 2, 'The Trouble With Edward')
This eccentric scientist was obsessed with his work. He even fried up some tribble and served it to a crewmember. He noted the tribble was like a scallop. But when his proposal was rejected, he injected some modified DNA, which included some of his own genetic material, into his tribble test subject.
It worked... too well. The tribbles bred so fast they destroyed the USS Cabot within hours. To make matters worse, the tribbles somehow survived the crash landing on Pragine 63, bred like mad, and caused such ecological mayhem the local Calation civilization had to be evacuated.
Oh, and some of these modified tribble made their way to Klingon space.
I suspect it was one of the reasons why the Klingons were so eager to go to war with the Federation. Certainly explains their hate for the little furry pests.
Their soft fur and cute purring made tribbles a popular pet. Trader Cyrano Jones introduced a tribble to Uhura, and next thing you know there's tribbles on K7, tribbles on the USS Enterprise, tribbles everywhere! (TOS Season 2, Episode 13, 'The Trouble with Tribbles')
The tribbles didn't just breed. They were born pregnant! They were breeding faster than the Enterprise could control them! But that was readily solved... just beam them aboard the Klingon ship in the area!
That's where we discover tribbles do not like Klingons. They screech whenever a Klingon is in their proximity, which helped foil their plans to poison a shipment of quadrotriticele destined for Sherman's Planet. The tribbles ate it all!
There were attempts to control the tribble population with mixed success. Cyrano Jones tried stopping their ability to reproduce through genetic engineering, which resulted in extra large tribbles, which was actually a cluster of tribbles bound together. McCoy treated the tribble colony with neoethylene, resulting in a slower metabolic rate and a safer tribble. (TAS Season 1, Episode 5, 'More Tribbles, More Trouble')
The Klingon's method, breeding a tribble-eating predator called the glommer, was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
Which is great! Because we see tribbles elsewhere in the Star Trek universe, usually as pets. They're even on Earth! (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
And a few of the super reproductive ones were introduced to DS9 thanks to some temporal hijinx. (DS9 Season 5, Episode 6, 'Trials and Tribble-ations')
Tribbles are an endearing, sweet, and dangerous introduction to any ecosystem or starship. But are they are handy lab animals! Captain Lorca would dissect a tribble for... reasons (DIS Season 1, Episode 3, 'Context is for Kings').
McCoy used a dead tribble as an experimental subject when testing Khan Noonian Singh's blood. It brought the tribble to life, foreshadowing how it would save Captain Kirk's life after some seriously fatal radiation exposure. (Star Trek: Into Darkness)
Whether it's for a pet, for an experiment, or for your dinner, tribbles delight and vex in equal measure.
'We got worms' is something you probably don't want to hear, but this episode of Get Trekucated is full of worms!
Worms are an easy go-to for creepy in Star Trek. Gree worms, blood worms, gagh and eels. If it slithers, there's an alien version of it.
On earth, we have ice worms, annelids adapted to cold temperatures, some exists only in ice! These little creatures, some found mostly in glaciers, have a few examples that live their entire lives in conditions below 0 degrees celsius.
And that's where we find ourselves with this annelid from Andoria, the Ice Bore. (ENT Season 4, Episode 14, 'The Aenar')
The Ice Bore is definitely a worm. Segmented, chubby, kind of like a larva or slug. They resemble earth caterpillars, but have some noticable differences.
Mainly that the Ice Bore earns it name by boring through the ice.
How does it do that?
Ice Bores generate heat through a chemical reaction. That in turn eats through the ice and allows the Ice Bores to slip through the burned holes.
Captain Archer and Shran had an encounter with these ice tunnelers on their way to the Aenar city. It turns out Andorians can chase these little creatures for hours. They just keep going down into the ice.
But one has to be careful! Shran received third degree burns over half of his body when he was younger, as he stumbled on an ice bore swarm.
Archer figures Doctor Phlox would be crazy enough to want some specimens anyways.
To the Aenar, the ice bores are no big deal. They collect ice bores. Probably have a distinct advantage. Psychic abilities gave Jhamel a distinct advantage when detecting ice bore swarms.
We don't know much else about the life cycle of the ice bore. They bore down. How do they get back up? We don't really know.
Just don't get too close finding out, or you'll end up with a few chemical burns for your trouble.
In previous installments of Get Trekucated, we checked out the Sehlat, Vulcan's answer to the sabre-tooth tiger. It was cute, fluffy, big, and great for hugs. It was also a vicious predator, so barely domesticated it could potentially injure you if you don't bring it's dinner on time. Though a fierce animal, the Sehlat is still a pet.
This next entry is anything but. Drop the ball of yarn and run for your lives, because we bring you Vulcan's other big cat, the Le-Matya.
Le-Matyas are a large, predatory beast native to the planet Vulcan. Normally living in the L-lagon Mountains and the Forge, Le-Matyas are known to widen their territory during times of drought or a lack of prey. Sometimes these wanderings take Le-Matyas to Vulcan settlements, where pets and even Vulcans are in danger of an attack.
A Le-Matya is a tough creature too! Able to take on a Sehlat and win, the Le-Matya has a tough leathery skin, and poisonous claws. The venom is a powerful nerve toxin, capable of killing small animals within minutes, or paralyzing larger creatures.
We see this happen to Spock's Sehlat, i-Chaya, who defended a young Spock from a Le-Matya attack. When taken to a healer, the Sehlat had two options. One, to live a little longer but in pain, or a quick and humane death. (TAS Season 1, Episode 2, 'Yesteryear')
Le-Matyas are alpha predators, but they don't hunt only for food. Even when not hungry, the Le-Matya will hunt. it prefers to lap up the blood of its prey, whether it needs it or not. (TOS Novel: The Vulcan Academy Murders)
Not that they're above a little scavenging. Le-Matyas are carrion eaters too, more specifically the aylakim. (TOS Short Story: 'The First Law of Metaphysics')
Like Vulcan's climate, the Le-Matya is harsh, cruel, and unforgiving. Encountering one of these big cats could put an unwary traveler into an early grave!
I have a personal policy. If the creature has more limbs than I do, it's off limits. I know it's a recession, but I'm not that desperate!
But our next creature in the beastiary is not off limit if you're camped out on the Bajoran moons, because when you've got the Cardassian boot on your neck and rations are cut, one can't be too picky.
The palukoo is found inhabiting Bajor's moons. They're most certainly found on the moon of Jerrado, also known as Lunar V. This habitable moon was home to some Bajoran settlement, at least until the provisional government started tapping the moon's core for energy. (DS9 Season 1, Episode 15, 'Progress')
It wasn't just home to a few homesteads. It also hosted a Bajoran resistance base. The caves on Lunar V stashed a few sub-impulse raiders used to hit-and-run on Cardassian shipping. (DS9 Season 2, Episode 3, 'The Siege')
And it was in those caves that palukoo lived.
These incredible arachnid cave dwellers are the size of a small dog or large cat. We don't know what they eat. We see a lot of spiderwebs in the cave, as they are prolific web spinners.
It seems they didn't eat humanoids, thankfully. The size and speed in which the palukoo travel was a shock to Jadzia Dax. Kira Nerys, on the other hand, was an old hand with these creepy crawlers. She remarked that they were a all over the caves, and the bajorans used to hunt and trap the palukoo.
Dax thought, innocently, that the palukoo were kept as pets.
Kira brought her down to stark reality when she told Dax the pakuloo were dinner.
Most likely caught by traps, as palukoo traps can be found on Bajor. (TNG Short Story: 'Flash Point').
Also, much like the terran black widow, the palukoo female mates, then kills the male by chewing its head off. (DS9 Novel: 'Day of the Vipers')
If that doesn't repulse you about these nasty critters, what does?
Thankfully it was all fake. The show's prop masters took a large mechanical spider toy to make the palukoo.
You can sleep easy.
And thank the stars you don't have to figure out how to cook them!
As we delve into new series of Star Trek, we'll encounter some brand new animals. In today's episode, we go to one of the latest. It's cute. It's fluffy. And it makes a great pizza topping... as long as you remove the venom sac.
So for all you trek fans and armored knights in search of the Holy Grail, quake in terror at Nepethe's very own bunnicorn. (PIC Season 1, Episode 7, 'Nepenthe')
The bunnicorn is part rabbit, part unicorn, and all trouble! It certainly looks like a member of the family Leporidae, if not for the screw-like born protruding from its head, right between it's two big, cute, side set eyes. At least that tells us one thing. Side eyes... prey animal. Which is a good thing because we're about to go into it's main distinguishing feature.
It's poisonous. Yes. Very poisonous.
The bunnicorn has venom sacs in its body. Whether it's for a venomous bite or for the horn is unknown. There are real-life mammals with venom, such as the platypus, so it's not that far of a stretch. The Star Trek beastiary has the Mugato, who has horns and a venomous bite.
From what little I can gather, the bunnicorn is common on Nepethe, though if it's anywhere else in the universe those details have yet to come out. They also must be plentiful enough to be hunted as a food animal! The bunnicorn is hunted by Kestra Troi-Riker. It's meat was made into sausage and put on a artisanal pizza. Brilliant!
The bunnicorn venom, if consumed, will cause vomiting of black bile, followed by an acute case of death, so one has to be slaughtered carefully, like a puffer fish.
The bunnicorn was introduced to the show as a homage to the horned canine of Star Trek: The Original Series, the one put through a transporter accident that made split personality clones. (TOS Season 1, Episode 4, 'The Enemy Within')
But thanks to the contrast of cute, then dangerous, then delicious, the bunnicorn became the latest addition of Star Trek's memorable beastiary.
It's been awhile since I've done an animal based week. We've explored some of the creatures of the Alpha Quadrant before. This week we check out more of the local wildlife. There might even be a shoutback or two because of updated information!
Now all we need is a Star Trek equivalent of the Crocodile Hunter!