The Proboscine Goat
The Proboscine Goat is close relative of the domestic goat, speculated to have evolved from the very ancestor that humans first captured. The source of its name is obvious, having to do with its unusually long, hollow tongue. The Proboscine Goat is an animal of the plains and low scrub lands. It travels in small family herds, males and females taking equal responsibility for the young.
The purpose of its unique proboscis is manifold. First, and most obviously, it uses its tongue for eating. The Proboscine Goat, unlike its close cousins, is an incredibly fussy eater. Rather than ingesting the low foliage found in either plain or desert, it instead consumes the tiny, colorful flakes of Snowflake Algae that live among loose grains of sand. The tongue’s purpose is to allow the goat to avoid consuming as much soil as it does algae. It suctions matter up through its hollow tongue, much like an elephant with its trunk. Spanning the inside of the tongue is a cartilaginous grid, similar to a whale’s baleen, through which the algae, because of its paper-thin shape, can filter. A second muscular opening in the tongue releases the algae into the back of the goat’s mouth, where fused tooth-plates grind it down. The sand and other particles that cannot filter through the cartilage built up and are eventually ejected from the tongue in plumes.
Near the end of the Proboscine Goat’s tongue is a fleshy bulb, covered in small and equally fleshy ‘spikes’. The purpose of this bulb is mostly for grooming, for which it is quite effective. Like many mammals, group grooming is an act of bonding within the herd. The young, who have developed neither length nor fleshy bulb for their tongue, are groomed in turn by each of the adults. The absence of this fleshy bulb in the young helps suggest one of its other uses, which is sexual. Proboscine goats, like most mammals, bear young roughly once every year. Due to their migratory nature, however, the weather and food supply cannot be relied upon for consistency. Therefore, the herd abstains until it deems the climate proper, then inducing heat in one another by way of a special ‘grooming session’. Proboscine Goats have an unusually short gestation period, so that the young are born helpless, but well within the time of plenty.
It is not surprising that the tongue of the Proboscine Goat should be seen as an amulet of virility. To dry it and drink through it is supposed to be of great advantage to the user, in all matters sexual and romantic. The dried tongue is also used as a kind of divining rod, supposedly curling and writhing when it approaches fresh water and food. The Institute is investigating the verisimilitude of this last claim, as it could prove exceedingly useful on expeditions.