Martian Penguin

The Martian Penguin (Ares Aptenodytes Horriblis) is the apex predator of the Martian polar region. Superficially resembling a terrestrial penguin, the Martian penguin can reach twelve feet in height and is a brilliant pure white with a raptor's hooked beak for tearing flesh. The "wings" are proportionally more powerful and are tipped with sharp claws. The combination of the "wings" and clawed feet can propel a belly sliding Martian penguin at up to 30mph over hard packed snow or ice. The claw tips and eyes are the only external color; the claws are grey and the eyes are black, "deader than the meanest shark's" quoted one zoologist. The Martian penguin hunts by lying in ambush or slowly approaching prey, then bursting forward at high speed. Its olfactory senses are highly developed and of great utility in detecting and tracking prey.

The penguin is a great trophy to the Martian polar tribes. Aside from the prestige of a kill, a skilled tanner can remove the feathered hide in a single piece and use it to fashion a three man tent. These tents are one of the most prized trade items. The traditional method of killing a Martian penguin for its hide has been poison (assuming it goes for the poisoned bait and not the hunter…), but terrestrial high powered firearms have allowed some to hunt them by dispatching the beast with a single head shot, leaving the precious hide intact. Smaller pieces of hide are fashioned into cold weather clothing.