Tatooine, a small desert planet in the outer rim which was presumed to be another dead planet like the many they had passed by the first travelers who stumbled onto it. Their assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong. In my travels around the galaxy I’ve never seen such fauna, on a planet like this, some of which are endemic only to Tatooine. At the beginning of Year 15, I returned (after a lot of paper work) to explore its vast deserts, small towns and even try to lay my eyes on some rare wildlife. In this paper, I will try and scratch the surface of the vast knowledge hidden on this planet and go even deeper into the Sarlacc’s gasping mouth than ever before. Made hypotheses will be explained in the next chapter.
2. Material and methods
Me and my crew arrived at Tatooine a few days before the announcing of the new secretary-general of the galactic alliance (Triumvirate consortium, 15). As we were a rather small crew, a Sprint Class rescue craft, equipped with bacta tanks and medical droids, sufficed to get us through the tedious job we were sent out to do. Our crew consisted of one zoologist, me, a herbologist, Mort Gastrula, two medics, Morrel Bancrofti and Tres Fute, geologist, Michael Bornhardt, translator and anthropologist, Hank Raka and a squad of guards. We landed at a distance from the center of Mos espa, nearby a house of a friend and colleague of mine, Buntha Hahni. This aqualish zoologist had lived in Mos Espa for many years and was ready to fund this expedition. As he himself had lost the function in his right leg, he himself wasn’t ready to take on this expedition; this is why he hired me. Our best bet was to visit a group of sand people, who lived nearby, as they knew their surroundings better than anyone else on this barren planet. Dr. Raka (Fig. 1) was ready to provide us with the necessary translations and made the first encounters run smoothly, which are quite rare with Sand people, as some told us from experience. We promised to hand them extra food and a supply for our stay and of course not to cause any trouble. A few days among the tribe Hank told us about a couple of Bantha herds nearby, untouched by sentient hands. The day afterwards, we went to visit them. This is where struck our first couple of hypotheses. We saw that they had certain herding patterns. We would be testing how they herded their young and lead them towards food and water sources. We did this by placing obstacles and dangers near the herds (fig. 4-6). Next site of research was the Bantha oasis. Of course, an oasis on Tatooine was a rare sight. The Bantha oasis fault line breaks the aquicludes above the pressurized water table (Fig. 3), which releases the water to the surface and even forces deep ground water to spring up (Bornhardt et al, 15). We also discovered new species of Cichlidae in the oasis’ main pool, further examined in the next chapter, also calculating the diversity and evenness (Equation 1) of that main pool. Evenness denotes how even the different species are distributed. When one certain species is prominently present in one certain location, the evenness would be one. When all species are evenly distributed, we have an evenness of around zero. We tested species diversity, distribution and evenness by catch and release, using fish traps, located near the center, rim and bottom of the oasis’ pool.
Fig. 3: Schematic explanation of the Bantha oasis and the Bantha oasis fault line. (Bornhardt et al, 15)
Fig. 4-6: types of tests concerning Bantha herd mechanics. Green: Object obstructing the herd; Blue: herd; Red: danger
Our third highlight of the journey was a Sarlacc pit south east from Mos Espa. Here we did some extra experiments involving tranquilizing the creature by means of high voltage and extracting acid from its bowels. We also checked his diet, as we were fairly uncertain about what the creature was willing to digest and what not. We also took some epidermic skin cell-samples and some epithelium cells from the inside of one of his gastrovascular chambers, which would supply DNA required for further genetic and analytic research (See: Results). Returning to the camp, we came across a herd of Ronto’s. Funds were getting low and we already studied herd mechanics, which meant studying these beasts had to be postponed until a future research. The next and last part of our expedition was looking for Profogg towns. We knew from prior research, conducted by Dr. Hahni, that Profogg’s lived near semi-hardened dunes, so we knew what we should be looking for. This was, again, Dr. Bornhardt’s field of expertise. After searching on a rented land speeder, we came across a patch of monocotylic plants, buried in the sand. According to Dr. Bornhardt, this pointed to semi-hardness of the dune. It didn’t take us long to find the entrance of a burrow, in this case, the entrance of a Profogg-town. We would be testing how the the family size affected the size of the town. This would be done by collecting soil samples. Soil samples which contained faces would be considered as ‘inhabited’. No Profogg-faeces found, meant ‘uninhabited’. This last subject was the end of our expedition. The results of the constructed hypothesizes are found in the next chapter.
3.1 Bantha herd mechanics
Table 1: Location subadults in Bantha herds; C: centre; R: right; L: left; F: front; B: behind
Location subadults Test type I Test type II Test type III Control group
Herd 1 CR C CF CF
Herd 2 C C CB CB
Herd 3 C C C C
We noticed the different mechanics in the different herds in the tests ‘control group’ and ‘test type III’. Test type I and test type II show somewhat consistent results (for explanation on tests, see figures 4 – 6). We will discuss these results in the next chapter.
3.2 Cyclid diversity
We counted fourteen different species of cyclids, eleven of which had not yet been named. The naming is still in progress of being accepted. After calculations, we discovered an evenness of 0.077812. it is possible this means that all species are quite evenly distributed. In this diversity study we also found a hint of macroevolution, where the different species had morphologically diversified on the different types of food present in the pool. five species lived of micro-organismic benthos, three species preyed on free living micro invertebrates, three species were herbivores, one preyed on macro invertebrates and two preyed on other cyclids. Out of these interactions between species, we can conclude the interspecific dynamics in this pool.
Table 2: Calculation of evenness on cyclids in Bantha fault oasis pool
Species Individuals (n) n/N (n/N)^2 Evenness
1 13 0.075581 0.005713 0.077812
2 7 0.040698 0.001656
3 4 0.023256 0.000541
4 8 0.046512 0.002163
5 14 0.081395 0.006625
6 16 0.093023 0.008653
7 15 0.087209 0.007605
8 13 0.075581 0.005713
9 17 0.098837 0.009769
10 10 0.05814 0.00338
11 11 0.063953 0.00409
12 14 0.081395 0.006625
13 16 0.093023 0.008653
14 14 0.081395 0.006625
Total (N): 172
3.3 Study on the Sarlacc
The Sarlacc was thought to be male, considering its rather small size (comparing it to other found specimens) and location. We also found no marks of predation on the specimen, which made it fairly certain for us that no natural predators like greater krayt dragons existed in this part of Tatooine. We found nothing in the Sarlaccs stomach what wasn’t being digested. We even found iron particles which were being purposely being corroded by the Sarlacc. We did find that the sarlacc was about 7410 years old, considering the corrosion of the metals and the calculated metabolic speed of the metal reducing enzyms. This is a pretty young specimen, as The lifespan of a sarlacc had been estimated to measure around 20,000 to 50,000 years.
The Sarlacc DNA is still being studied and our research is deemed incomplete. It will be continued in one of the future fauna reports or reports made by the researchers conducting the DNA examination.
3.4 Profogg town size
We found buried feces up to 313 meters away from the main entrance. Further than this distance, we found few to none droppings. We compared this town size with other previous works and discovered that this was an average sized town. When adding this town size to others and taking an mean, we calculated a mean of 329 meters.
We can conclude that Banthas protect their young by surrounding them in the center of the herd, even when no danger is present. When neither odd objects nor dangers were present, distressing the animals, we did notice a ‘sloppier’ formation of the herd, meaning that the subadults weren’t fixed in a certain position in the herd. It is possible that the animals sensed our presence, which might have altered the results. Future research will be using cameras to dismiss the, by sentient caused, stress factor. Another point we did not test was the herd dimension related herd mechanics, nor the grazing herd mechanics. This will also be examined in a future research.
The cyclid diversity found in the Bantha fault oasis could be considered as high, considering the size and desolation of the pool. All species found in the pool are probably all of the same supra-species, as 11 out of 14 of the species are endemic to the Bantha fault oasis. Further genetic research will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.
Sarlaccs’ place in the galactic tree of life remains a mystery until further studied. For its diet however, we can fairly certain consider its digestive enzymes to be one of the most powerful found throughout the galaxy, digesting even iron. Some previous reports however speak of weak enzymes, which hypothesis we now can dismiss. The enzymes found in the stomachs of the Sarlacc aren’t weak; they are on the contrary very powerful, but slow. We concur on the fact that further research has to be done to find out how long (see: kinetic chemistry of the Sarlacc digestive enzymes; WIP) and up to what material it can digest, which part of the research we did not cover in this report.
As noted in the next chapter, the average Profogg town size can be considered around 329 meters in radius, 658 meter in diameter. This makes it one of the biggest territory sizes in comparison to the animal’s length in the galactic animal kingdom. Our research however didn’t take into view that it is possible for colonies to merge; meaning the colony we found could actually have consisted of different towns. This should be differentiated in future research using genetic research to see whether all individuals are related to one another and how these families are found throughout the towns. In that way, it is also possible for a dominant family to exist with a queen. Future research will also have to examine whether Profoggs are eusocial, meaning they have cooperative brood care (including brood care of offspring from other individuals), overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. This division of labor would create specialized behavioral groups within this animal society called castes, which could also be studied in further research.
This fauna report again clarifies how much biologic knowledge of the galaxy is still to be unveiled. Even one small planet like Tatooine harbors a vast amount of knowledge of which only a glimpse has been discovered over the many years of research.