Rhonkers (named afterthe "rhonk!" call they make) are medium-sized quadrupeds which inhabit the grasslands, forests and jungles scarcely found on planet Yautja Prime. They are the ecological equivalent of pigs on that planet.
Rhonkers are bulky quadrupeds with hooved feet and a long, dinosauroid tail which ends in a spiked blade. They are pachiderm-like, with tough skin covering their backs and tails. Like the Yautja Hounds, they also have several fleshy protusions on the anterior part of their backs, which are used both for hearing and heat-dissipation. These structures are homologous to the Yautja's so-called "dreadlocks".
Rhonkers are omnivorous foragers, feeding on all sorts of roots, succulent plants, fungi, land algae, invertebrates and small burrowing vertebrates. Their nostrils are located on their foreheads. Rhonkers have excellent smelling but poor eyesight. Like the humanoid Yautja, Rhonkers have four bony mandibles surrounding the snout. Their mandibles, however, are longer, stronger and have four joints. The lower pair is located below the chin and linked together by a web of tissue. The upper pair runs by each side of the snout and it far more mobile, used mainly for digging the earth in search for roots and invertebrates, to shed the bark of trees looking for grubby larvae, and to destroy nests of mneke (small eusocial bugs similar in appearance to Earth's velvet worms). The tail blade is used to tear up vegetation, take trees down and fight other beasts.
Every Yautja year, at the beginning of the driest season, Rhonkers lay dozens of resilient eggs buried in underground trenches built by them. From these eggs come the strange little beasts known as sandmoles, which live in the underground hunting down invertebrates. When the rains return and so do large surface predators, the Rhonkers awake from their hibernation period and the sandmoles (having already grown functional legs at this point) come to the surface to be adopted and raised by the elder adults of their species. The first season on the surface is the most challenging period in a Rhonker life, for it must find enough food to grow quickly into adulthood while at the same time building a reserve to survive its first hibernation period. After three years of adult life, the Rhonkers will start laying eggs. After four years they will start adopting sandmoles and raising them.
The Rhonker reproductive strategy can be thus described as a combination of R-strategy and K-strategy, as the offspring are very numerous and left to look after themselves in their larval stage (sandmole), but are later "adopted" and carefully raised by adults after coming to the surface.
In the largest deserts of the planet can be found several species of "eternal sandmoles": neotonous species which spend their entire lives as sandmoles, never passing through the later surface stages. This is a strategy developed to survive the ongoing desertification of Yautja Prime, which is threatening the forest-based Rhonkers and driving many species to extinction.
In Yautja CultureEdit
As one of the most common beasts on the planet, Rhonkers have an important place on Yautja culture and some domesticated varieties have been brought to several other worlds of the galaxy to be used as a source of meat, cloth and as Xenomorph breeders. The Xenomorphs formed from a Rhonker host are massive and very popular for hunting sports. While Rhonkers themselves used to be hunted and fought, gladiator-style, during the middle-age equivalent on Yautja Prime; they have later gone "out of fashion" after space travel was developed and alien lifeforms became the preferred hunting target.
Some Yautja hunters prefer to use a domesticated Rhonker variety in place of Yautja Hounds. What the Rhonkers lack in speed and agility compared to the traditional hounds, they compensate in increased strength and intelligence.