|Abilities:||Gnawing metal and stone, fire breathing|
|Extremities:||Two arms and legs and a tail|
Mountain Maggot, The. Although its outward appearance renders this hard to believe, the Mountain or Iron Maggot (Vermis montanus) belongs to the same family as the common earthworm, but is much more highly developed. The Mountain Maggot bears a biological resemeblance, on the one hand, to the primitive whipworm (Trichocephalus dispar), especially as regards its digestive organs; and, on the other, to the structurally far more complex tube-dwelling worm, (Hermella complexiensis). At a mature stage of development, Mountain Maggots attain roughly the size of a Cloven-Hoofed Steppe Unicorn, and are thus Zamonia's third largest species of worm, surpassed only by the →Lower Zamonian Chalk Leech and the →Midgard Serpent. They live by gnawing their way through the mineral deposits in the Gloomberg Mountains (their only habitat), filtering all the nutrients out of the metal they devour, and digesting them. For this purpose they are equipped with masticatory organs so exceptional that any saurian predator would covet them. The mature Mountain Maggot is also capable of spitting fire like the Firework Dragon of the Brazilian rain forest, to which it is not however, related, for dragons belong to the nodulodermal family, whereas the Mountain Maggot's epidermis is so smooth that it looks polished. Its entire body does, in fact, consist of gleaming stainless steel. Its lower jaw is shaped like an excavator shovel edged with sawteeth coated in diamond dust. It has pincers in lieu of hand and steel claws in lieu of feet, and its body terminates in a huge, tapering metal file. The mechanical appearance of the Mountain Maggot has given rise to the belief that it may be of manmade origin and hailed from another planet or another dimension. It is more probable that nature has found its own way of defying the hostile environment of the Gloomberg Mountains by countering it with a metallic life form. The Mountain Maggot is probably the strongest creature on our continent relative to its size. In outward appearance, it is one of the most impressive sights Zamonia has to offer, and its potential dangers can only be likened to those of an omnivorous Sabre-Toothed Saurian when robbed of its young.
Mountain Maggot, The [cont.]. The origins of the Mountain Maggot are lost in time and cannot be determined with any scientific exactitude. According to one ancient Zamonian legend, the first Mountain Maggots crawled out of the dung excreted by Giant Cyclopses; according to another, they evolved from the tears of the Storm Gods (→ Gloomberg Tempest, The). What is certain, given the present porous condition of the Gloomberg Mountains, is that the earliest Mountain Maggots must have begun to gnaw their way through them hundreds of thousands of years ago. Although no scientific proof of this has yet been adduced, it is surmised that, in addition to its vermicular relationship, the Mountain Maggot has an affinity to the termite. This is suggested by the perforations in the Gloombergs, which are reminiscent of a termites' nest.
Mountain Maggots are solitary creatures. When two of them meet, as they occasionally do, they tend to ignore each other. One of the biology's great unsolved riddles is how Mountain Maggots reproduce in view of their lack of contact with others of their kind. The answer may lie in another Zamonian legend that tells of 'the Great Queen', a maggot that lives in the interior of the Gloombergs and lays steel eggs from which the infant grubs emerge. There is, however, no scientific confirmation of this.
Mountain Maggot, The [cont.]. The Mountain Maggot belongs to the unisomnolent genus, i.e. it sleeps only one in its life. This it does shortly after attaining its two-hundredth birthday, but for fourteen years at a stretch. During this time it subsists on its accumulated mineral reserves and breathes only once a month.