Rakonian swamp rat
Octavio Briswald’s field notes
August 18, 2112
What ho! Sing praises for a glorious week, with new invention breaking forth to new discovery!
The mystery of the Rakonian swamp rat has long eluded scientific explanation. We who professionally shun the ambiguous have been stymied by the rat’s ability to stay underwater for great lengths of time, despite its relatively small lung capacity. All attempts to solve the issue through dissection or lab observation have failed; the rats swiftly die in captivity.
But the stalwart team of Briswald and Fitzmurdle was not to be thwarted! The clear solution was to travel to the rats in their native habitat and set up an intensive observation regime. This endeavor had a rocky start; Fitzmurdle spent four fruitless days mired in the boggy swamp with a camera, and I likewise had no luck in my attempts to pick up clues from the local villagers. Rakonian women are beautiful, but apparently not kindly disposed to curious foreigners.
It was clear some other system needed to be developed, and the answer came to me in a flash, as if from on high. Grabbing our hand-held tractor net, I carved a great circular swath out of the swamp, pulling up a full cross-section of the ecosystem from the mud up through to the filmy surface of the water. I dragged this contraption, essentially a glassless aquarium suspended in the air, back to our home base, and connected it to a power source in our toilet chamber.
Once the silt had settled, the answer unfolded before us, rendered beautiful by its simplicity! As will be explained in full detail in my upcoming paper on the subject, we discovered that the rats live in symbiosis with a peculiar variety of aquatic swamp plant, which exudes bubbles of oxygen. Through a remarkable trick of evolution, the rats have developed the ability to gather and trap this oxygen in a large bubble around their heads, which they maintain with oils secreted deep within their greasy fur.
Fitzmurdle has rightly pointed out that this tractor-beam-as-aquarium invention is fairly disruptive to the local habitat, so we shall have to use it sparingly in the future. But what a joy, to be the team that has at last unraveled the riddle of the aquatic Rakonian rodents!
Leonard Fitzmurdle’s personal log
August 18, 2112
I do wish Commander Briswald had chosen a different location in which to set up the viewing device. It is very disconcerting to attempt to use the toilet facilities while being attentively observed by a handful of curious swamp rats.
Other mentions: According to Kira, Quark has more in common with a Rakonian swamp rat than with Worf (DS9).