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Ujodirj (aka Dirj)
The snagtooth is a smaller (up to 16 ft) inshore omnivore which is locally common in Duurludirj territory but not widespread. It is related to the more diverse soldierfish. Like them, the snagtooth resembles the dolphin-like dinosaur, ichthyosaurus but with armor plating (like a sturgeon) and a bony ridge down the spine which has a prominent peak like a dorsal fin. Their water sense is good, though their sonar is less sophisticated than that of soldierfish; the sonar apparatus is located behind the head where the body begins to thicken. Supporting the snout and sonar organs is a large mass of muscle filling the area between the dorsal spike and the head; this sweet white meat is carved into steaks similar to catfish. The snout is wide, flat, and sturdy; its spade shape makes it good for digging in soft mud or sand. The snagtooth has more and longer barbels at the rear corners of its mouth, plus shorter ones underneath the snout; these give the snagtooth excellent sense of taste/smell and also assist in navigation. It eats fish, waterfowl, plants, garbage, and pretty much anything else it can find. It breathes water through gills. The eyes are small and stationary.
This sea monster is named for its most prominent feature: a pair of large curling tushes located near the rear of the mouth, larger in females than in males. These are used to hook, slash, and gore a variety of things. The snagtooth's favored way of dealing with other sea monsters is to hook its tushes into their belly or gills, which are weak spots in most species, so it likes to attack from underneath. Unfortunately it responds the same way to small or medium boats, and can capsize them. It is less inclined to attack human swimmers, but like a shark, it's attracted to blood in the water and distressed motions and will attack under those conditions. It also uses its spade-like snout to dig for food in the soft substrate, which can dislodge anchors, crustacean traps, or other human devices. Both the ivory tushes and the smooth flat bone of the snout are favored for scrimshaw.
The snagtooth is a fast breeder producing vast clouds of milt and eggs. The roe is more nutritious but less tasty than that of soldierfish; it is usually breaded and fried in clumps, and is considered a subsistence food. Unlike the soldierfish, the mother snagtooth scatters her eggs in a bed of mud or sand and then guards them until the fry can swim, usually 3-4 days after hatching. During this time the mother is extremely territorial and aggressive. This species prefers muddy water, but will tolerate clear water; it does poorly in polluted water. It readily takes advantage of turbidity or cover to hunt from ambush, although in clear water it usually grazes instead. They do not usually hunt in schools, but they will school to kill a larger sea monster. Snagtooth young are eaten by various species, but the armor makes the adults almost inedible unless they are dead; only giant turtles regularly prey on full-grown snagtooths. Females live 80-100 years and males 40-50 years.
They are best caught with stinkbait on a hook, but may be netted or harpooned through the gills or belly. Their formidable armor deflects most attacks, and the prominent dorsal spike can be dangerous if the snagtooth is flopping around. The tushes are the worst threat, even on land; it is best to avoid the business end. Because snagtooths are accustomed to fighting bigger sea monsters, they rarely give up fighting until they are dead and cease twitching.
Before Upheaval: Multiple species and subspecies of Snagtooth existed near the southern continent, mostly uncommon. These included marine, brackish, and freshwater species, so the snagtooth is highly adaptable to different salinity and temperature. Some were migrants between fresh and salt water.
Sundered Times: Most of the species died out. In shard #69, two subspecies interbred to form a single species with subtly different color phases. Snagtooths are dark gray on top, but the color may lean toward bluish or greenish. The white underbelly is marked off with twin lateral lines where the armor plating ends; the thin black line is always visible, but underneath it is a wider brown line that turns neon red or orange when the snagtooth becomes agitated. This species of snagtooth increased its population as things settled after the Upheaval, and was thriving by the time barriers began to fall.
Modern Times: The snagtooth spread from shard #69 to shard #11 and the Duurludirj parts of shard #12, and then to shard #68. Heavy Imperial presence in time shard #10, #15, and #12 has thus far kept it out of the interior sea, along with shards #66 and #13. It may continue to spread northward and eastward, although its progress is slow because it doesn't favor long-range swimming.
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