If you were lucky enough to be bobbing around in Space and looking down on our big wet rock, you might notice some bits that are rather dry. In these dry bits are some places that are particularly parched and in them are some seas. These aren’t the sorts of seas you’d want to sit aside with a sandwich and a light ale until you went a fetching shade of pink mind, they are the great sand seas; Erg… No, no, I’m feeling fine, that’s what these huge shifting sands are called; ‘Erg’… No, I’m fine, it’s the blasted name ‘Erg’… bugger it, let’s just call them the ‘great sand seas’.


These sand seas are whopping great lakes of powdered rock, enormous waves of stone constantly shifting, ebbing and flowing with the winds. Swathes of nothingness; very little vegetation, with a smattering of creatures surviving on whatever is unlucky enough to be blown into a scorching hot desert full of hungry things.

... how do you do?

One of these hungry little devils is the rather smashing sandfish. These fishy characters are actually a type of skink; a big group of lizards known for their lack of neck and weeny limbs. Of course he’s not the only chap with a rumbling tummy in these big desolate sand pits. The problem with empty spaces is that they are very hard to hide from things that see you as supper. Hungry sods aren’t the only thing that is trying to give you a dreadful day at the seaside either, there is a bloody big hot thing in the sky trying to put the kibosh on it too. Thankfully the wee sandfish has had a rather smashing idea.

This particular wee skink is the fish of these great sandy seas, which goes part way to explain why they are so imaginatively titled. If there is any sign of anything hungry, or indeed if it’s hotter than a Khartoum canteen that day, he just sploshes under the surface of the soft sand and swims off, the sand being so fine in the Erg it behaves like a gloopy fluid.

... a sandfish acting all fishy in sand

Before you bugger off on some other noble pursuit, and of course before one begins something ignoble, it may be of note that ours isn’t the only big rock that has these big sand seas. There are Erg on Mars and Venus, and doubtless countless other planets… and who knows what could be sploshing around under them.

Erg on Mars

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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