Author's Note: I made this as a kinda Wikipedia style biological summary of Valfalk/Valphalk/Valstrax with speculative features and explanations for its abilities. Do note that this is heavily speculative and mostly based on my very basic understanding of biology and general observation with these monsters. It is all labelled so you can skip to specific parts if you want. However, I put a lot of effort into this one in particular (Almost double the word count on the Zinogre post) and I’d recommend giving the whole thing a read. With that said, longer content means a higher chance for error. I’ve done two Grammarly runs and three proofreads though there may still be some typo’s, grammatical errors or choppy editing, for which I apologize. I also wish to apologize in advance for my poor drawing skills.
(Note: Many of the taxonomic classifications are named after the classification of Earth’s species because I don’t have the creative energy to come up with appropriate sounding Latin words for all of them and it simplifies the process and makes it easier to draw connections.)
Valfalk derives from the English word, “valour” and the Japanese word, “farukon” (meaning falcon). The genus Dracocometa derives from the Latin “Draco” and “Cometa”, respectively meaning dragon and comet, referring to Valfalk’s classification (Elder Dragon), use of dragon energy and common misidentification as a comet. The specific name, argenpteri, derives from the Latin “argenti”, meaning silver, and the greek “pteryga”, meaning wing, pointing at the silver sheen of its scales, particularly evident on its unique wings. Overall, the genus and species name could be interpreted as “silver-winged dragon comet”.
1.Size and appearance
Valfalk (alternate spelling: Valphalk. Also referred to as Valstrax) is a lean medium-sized Elder Dragon (Hexapoda), of which only a handful of specimens are known, mostly inhabiting remote, high-altitude locations. Particularly large specimens can reach up to 26.75 meters long though on average, the species range from 20 to 25 meters. They are covered in silvery scales. Upon closer inspection, it was found that the metallic appearance is caused by the thin titanium sheets on the surface of the scales. The scleras are ocean blue while the irises glow crimson.
Valfalk possesses several basic Elder Dragon traits. For example, they have six limbs, four of which are long and slender, with an erect posture indicative of more derived species, for terrestrial locomotion. The remaining pair is situated above and partially anterior to the first pair of walking limbs have elongated digits, as seen in all other species of true Elder Dragons where they often form membranous wings, though such membranes are greatly reduced in Shara Ishavalda. The digits themselves are also very wide, with a semi teardrop shape opening up at the bottom. The scales are moderately sized, thin and overlapping.
2.Skull and Head Morphology
The skull is elongated, thin and lightly built, with partially forward-facing eye orbits. The jaws are long and relatively birdlike, with skull and mandible bones expanding from the teeth row and forming base structures for the beaks. The beaks themselves are constructed of keratin and coated in titanium, similarly to the scales, with a curved upper beak. The teeth are close interlocked, laterally compressed and serrated on the back edge (superficially similar to the teeth of Komodo Dragons), allowing them to efficiently lacerate and process flesh. Two to three replacement teeth are constantly on stand-by beneath the functional row, ready to emerge in case of breakage. The skull bones are relatively thin, with large fenestrae. The and the posterior bones of the skull and jaws, namely the parietal, squamosal, and quadratojugal extend into five bony knobs supporting a crown of titanium coated keratin horns. The base of the middle horn also acts as a sagittal crest, supporting surprisingly large jaw muscles that loop through the temporal and supertemporal fenestrae and connect to the lower jaw, producing a substantial bite force. The attachment points at the back of the skull are enlarged, allowing for a better connection with the powerful neck muscles, facilitating a saw-like feeding pattern. The nostrils are large to allow higher air intake for both basic functions and its jet engines. Cone-shaped bones attach within the nostrils to deflect harmful shockwaves, The braincase is moderately large, holding a decently sized brain which is superficially avian in shape.
Skull depiction with jaw musculature:
The large eyes face partially forward, allowing for a fair degree of binocular vision. The retinas are lined with numerous cone cells that detect light across the entire visual spectrum as well as the UV spectrum, with great distinction, as well as sufficient rod cells for adequate night vision. The eyes also possess deep foveas, allowing for better image focusing (similarly to Earth’s eagles) and the blood vessels feeding the retinas concentrate in a pecten-type structure that reduces the amount of light blocked by the capillaries, similarly to the pecten occuli of Earth’s birds. The irises, which glow crimson due to the high levels of dragon element in the capillaries, are powerful and can precisely expand and contract the pupil from a wide oval to a thin slit. The relatively narrow pupil limits the field of view, which does lead to tunnel vision and occasional mid-air collisions with airships and flying wyverns, but also protects its sensitive eyes from excessive glare. The nictitating membranes or third eyelids are very clear and relatively tough, protecting the eyes from airborne particles at high speeds.
The olfactory sense is reduced, with low densities of chemoreceptors due to the lack of delectable airborne particles.
The ears are fairly sensitive, most likely for intraspecies communication. During flight, however, the ear holes are closed via muscles, covering the ear canals with a muffling surface, protecting them from the sound of the jet engine.
The focculus which integrates muscle, tendon, joints and skin signals take up a significant 7% of total brain mass. This system allows Valfalk to precisely manipulate its eye muscles and wings.
As mentioned above, the scales of Valstrax are oval-shaped, overlapping, and coated with titanium. As with fish scales, their scales function similarly to fish scales by creating a streaky surface flow of fluid (air) and reducing drag. Titanium is a very durable biologically inert material and has a relatively high melting point, allowing the scales to resist the heat generated from friction when moving at high velocity. The underside of the scales are lined with blood vessels and are partially exposed due to the overlap, allowing excess internal temperature to radiate out into the air. The scales can be raised, increasing the area of exposed cooling surfaces at the cost of increased drag and turbulence and, thus, is mostly done during cruising flights to maintain a stable internal temperature. The bottom-most layer of the scale, immediately connecting to the dermis is heat insulative. The dermis is filled with compressible connective tissue, allowing it to deform and absorb some energy from a hard impact. The hypodermis is composed of adipose tissue and also acts as shock absorption as well as insulation.
Cross-sectional diagram of skin and scales: https://imgur.com/gallery/ZKTTGKK
5.Skeletal System, Limb, and Tail Morphology
Most of Valfalk’s bones are relatively thin and appear lightweight in construction, yet they can withstand impact with the ground at Mach 1. This is due to its unique construction. These bones, similarly to Valstrax’s scales, incorporate thin grids of titanium as a support structure. Titanium is not overly heavy (though it is still not used fully in the bones to further conserve weight), very strong for its weight, and is biologically inert. The cartilage in the joints and connecting the ribs are fairly flexible and compressible, allowing them to deform and absorb impacts without sustaining permanent damage. The joints across the body are also designed to flex upon frontal impact, reducing trauma and breakage. The bones are loaded with osteoblasts which rapidly repair any fracture or injury on the bones and maintain structural integrity while the bone marrow contains stem cells for the cartilage as well as other parts regularly placed under great strain, namely the circulatory and respiratory system.
The body, particularly the ribcage and overall torso are shaped in such a way that air flows faster across the back than the belly, creating greater pressure on the underside, resulting in a lift force.
The wings’ wrists can swiftly rotate back and forth, allowing for thrust vectoring of its jet nozzles and the ability to use the hands as grasping tools and weapons. The wing finger bones are extended and rigidly connected at the joints by ossified tendons. The bones of the joints project sideways and bowing downwards, similarly to ribs, and support large titanium-reinforced ossified plates between them to form the frame of fingers’ signature teardrop shape. Besides their primary function as thrust nozzles, the fingers are utilized with weapons. The scales along the distal edges and at the proximal end of the first digit are fused and coated with thicker edged titanium shells that function as blades. The tops of the digits are also similarly fused and edged, even to a greater degree. The fingers are also quite bizarre in that they are only weakly attached to the hand and can be ripped free and extended for a far-reaching strike, using the edged titanium plate attached to the back of the first digit as a spear tip, before being pulled back, letting the gaps regenerate. The three digits are connected via greatly reduced but nonetheless crucial membranes. The membrane is highly flexible, allowing the fingers a high degree of flexation without incurring permanent damage or dislocation. A dense network of blood vessels also run between the fingers and the membrane, removing and radiating excess heat from the fingers during combustion.
The legs are of average length for an elder dragon though the forearm and shins are somewhat slim. They are digitigrades, walking on their highly developed toes. The three grounded toes of the hindlimbs are packed closely together and possess shorter claws for optimal terrestrial locomotion, while the toes of the hind limbs can be swung far apart with the first toe, or finger, being able to swing back to oppose the remaining three for a better grasp. The claws of the forelimbs are long and strongly curved, with a somewhat edged inner surface. The fingers also have numerous spiky projections for grasping slippery prey, similarly to Earth’s Osprey.
The bones in the limbs and across the entire body are also designed to interlock once flexed past a certain extent to prevent too much deformation while the force is transferred throughout the skeleton and dampened in the compressible cartilage and connective tissue. For example, when Valstrax strikes a target with the jagged edges on its wings at high velocity, particularly if the wing is fully extended, the limb rotates backwards slightly so as to not instantly shatter the arm, before locking into the shoulder blade, stopping the backwards motion, allowing more force to be transferred into the target, similar to the lance rest of Earth’s human plate armour, while any excessive force would travel through the shoulder, into the ribcage, compressing the cartilage between the ribs. The shoulder and hip joints for the legs also interlock with the legs when they are swung back far enough, enabling them to stay tucked in during flight without the need for muscle power.
The tail vertebrae are rigidly locked by rods of ossified tendons, which prevents the tail from drifting and incurring drag during flight. These rods are fully coated in titanium which, along with the pubis also being strongly reinforced with titanium, shifts the centre of gravity aft, reducing static stability and increasing agility (A similar concept is used in some of Earth’s humans’ technologies such as the F-16, F-22 and Su-35). When in levelled flight, this is compensated for by the bottom thruster fingers being canted downwards.
A double row of moderately sized plates of titanium covered bone run down Valfalk’s back. The plates extend vertically and are only slightly canted away from each other, with the largest pair being roughly above the hip. These plates likely serve as vertical stabilizers, preventing Valfalk from being rolled by the wind. They can also be shifted slightly to act as rudders for subtle manoeuvres.
Depictions of various parts of the skeletal system, showing the titanium reinforcement:
A femur, showing titanium reinforcement grid Titanium reinforced bones and ossified plates of wing digit Titanium plates and scales on wing digit Titanium plated ossified caudal tendon rods Titanium edged keratin claw sheath Cross-sectional view of claw near the base, broader and without titanium Cross sectional view of claw near the tip, with a titanium cutting edge
(Note: This bit is purely headcanon as there isn’t much information on the Dragon Element). All creatures in the world of Monster Hunter possess “bio-energy” which is a mysterious source of energy, perhaps either some sort of microorganism or substance that holds high amounts of potential energy that can be released and used by cells as a supplement to ATP while being more energetic, long-lasting, and able to be found throughout the ambient environment. When roughly refined, ATP becomes a crude form of dragon element, immensely efficient and stable and can be found in vast quantities in all elder dragons and certain other creatures high on the food chain such as Deviljho and Akantor, which can accumulate high concentrations of bio-energy for refining. The dragon element can be refined further into refined dragon element, by further cleansing impurities and/or adding some form of catalyst or oxidizing agent. This more refined state tends to glow crimson, sometimes manifesting in lightning-like crackles (as seen in Stygian Zinogre, Deviljho and Alatreon) and is highly reactive and combustible. It is worth noting that carriers of the dragon element tend to be vulnerable to dragon element from external sources, possibly due to being inadequately equipped to handle the element being delivered offensively from an external source, only being used to their own dragon element, or they are simply overloaded. The purest form of bio-energy glows a brilliant blue and has a tendency to crystallize when accumulated and exposed to air.
Valfalk carries amongst the highest quantities of crude and refined dragon elements of any monster, possibly beaten in both only by White Fatalis. When absorbing nutrients, the membranes of its intestines appear to separate basic impurities from the bio-energy sources, generating crude dragon elements. This process is aided by the immensely powerful gastric acid, which thoroughly breaks down food for efficient refining. This crude energy is used to provide its cells with high quantities of energy, heightening its strength and senses to even a bit above standard elder dragon level and accelerates biological processes such as cellular regeneration. Some of this crude energy is further refined further in the spleen, creating the glowing refined variant, which flows along with lymphocytes in the lymphatic system and can be released into the bloodstream where necessary, such as near the head to feed the brain and eyes with more energy (also causing the irises to glow an intimidating crimson), into the coronary artery to power the heart, within the lungs, allowing them to act as combustion chambers and in the wings to create an afterburner.
During periods of aggression and stress, they release more dragon elements into their fingers, head, and claws, heightening their afterburn effect and imbuing their attacks with the element.
Valfalk has a very high density of relatively slim red blood cells, which holds oxygen for high altitude flights, especially considering that respiratory activities are greatly reduced during combustion (as will be explained below). The small size of the red blood cells facilitates easier circulation. The muscles around the body also carry oxygen binding proteins, similarly to some of Earth’s deep-diving animals. The heart is extremely large and powerful to effectively pump the dense blood. The blood vessel walls are thick and quickly repaired to prevent wear and tear. The spleen also golds extra oxygen-carrying red blood cells which can be released, essentially blood doping Valfalk when oxygen is needed. The blood vessels are intertwined with the musculature of the extremities in such a fashion that Valfalk can selectively clamp those muscles, namely the legs, tails and neck, to restrict blood flow to certain regions, preventing blood pooling, during high velocity and/or high G manoeuvres.
- Respiratory System
All Elder Dragons convergently evolved a respiratory system analogous to bird and flying wyverns (as well as Earthly birds), consisting of a pair of lungs and a set of air sacs: Cervical (Neck) sacs, an Interclavicular (upper chest) sac, Anterior thoracic (Chest) sacs, Posterior thoracic (Waist) sacs, Abdominal (Abdomen) sacs. Air moves through the lungs and air sac, nourishing the lungs with fresh oxygenated air with every inhalation and exhalation and unburdening them of stagnant air. This system of air sacs feeds Elder Dragons the oxygen intake needed for their metabolism and reduces overall weight.
Basic Diagram of parts of the respiratory system:
Airflow diagram of inhalation during regular respiratory activity:
During inhalation, Valfalk’s thoracic cavity expands, drawing air in through the trachea which flows through to the posterior air sacs. Some of the air flows back out into the lungs where gas exchange occurs. The deoxygenated air flows out of the lungs into the anterior air sacs.
Airflow diagram of exhalation during regular respiratory activity:
During exhalation, Valfalk’s thoracic cavity compresses, pressing the remaining oxygenated air in the posterior air sacs through the lungs for gas exchange, while forcing the deoxygenated air in the anterior air sacs out through the trachea and the air sacs running through the pneumatic humerus, out into the forearm and opening up in the fingers. This breath cycle allows fresh oxygenated air to constantly flow through the lungs during both inhalation and exhalation and eliminates stagnant air.
However, in Valfalk, the respiratory system has also been modified to act as a highly advanced continuous jet propulsion system which works by compressing air and burning refined dragon energy as fuel to accelerate it through thrust nozzles in the wings.
Airflow diagram of inhalation during jet propulsion:
The gular pump in the throat (similarly to the ones in Earth’s monitor lizards) expands the trachea, drawing air into the lungs. The vents connecting the anterior thoracic air sacs to the openings in the chest wall open up as the chest cavity expands, drawing significantly more air into the lungs than it would be possible with just the trachea. The air is forced into smaller pipes which partially increases pressure. The ab muscles contract (starting anteriorly and moving posteriorly) and undulate (a rapid cycle of partial expansion and contraction) accordingly to continually compress and move air in the posterior thoracic and abdominal sacs along into the lungs for combustion. The posterior thoracic and abdominal sacs, as well as the pneumatic humerus sac, are relatively thick and composed of highly elastic connective tissue, with an outer backing layer that is mostly loosely connected so that a tear in the inner surface doesn’t result in a total rupture and deflation and could be healed over. The lungs are separated into two sections. The bottom section, taking up roughly 25% of the total volume continues to function for regular gas exchange. The top section secretes a specialized mucous onto its inner surfaces. This mucous serves three main functions: the outermost layer blocks oxygen from entering the lungs, keeping them for combustion; the bottom layer binds escaping CO2, keeping them from building up in the bloodstream and poisoning Valfalk, and the middle layer of the mucous serves as an extremely effective thermal insulator, protecting the lungs. Small breaks occur in the mucous layer to inject the refined dragon elements via the dense network of blood vessels in the lungs before being quickly closed and filled in. The highly reactive dragon element spontaneously combusts in the pressence of the fairly hot and pressurized oxygenated air. The hot burning mix accelerates out into the interclavicular air sac, where a separating plate keeps it from mixing with the regular air and prevents expansion. The regular air takes some of the heat from the lung tissue that manages to conduct through the mucous layer and flows into the interclavicular and cervical air sacs. The burning dragon-air mix flows through the extended air sac in the wings and up to the digits. As they move through the digits, more dragon element is released into the flow, drastically increasing the burn temperature and, thus, the air speed and thrust, essentially working like an afterburner. This air is blasted out through the narrowed opening, generating forward thrust. The interclavicular and cervical air sacs are filled with a far denser network of blood vessels than normal which draws heat from the heated air so that it could be dissipated through the exposed blood vessel filled surfaces beneath the scales.
Airflow diagram of exhalation during jet propulsion:
Stages of exhalation during jet propulsion:
The gular pump closes the trachea so that air can’t escape through it. The chest cavity compresses, compressing and pushing the remaining air in the anterior thoracic savs out and towards the posterior sacs. The deoxygenated air in the cervical and interclavicular sacs also get pushed out into the flow, quickly mixing with the oxygenated air, which decreases the proportional oxygen content for which the sheer quantity of the air compared to the inhalation compensates. The abdominal muscles expand partially to facilitate easy airflow through them and into the lungs. The air remaining in these sacs could then be used in the next abdominal compression during inhalation. The separation, combustion, and cooling occur as explained above. The heated deoxygenated air flows into the newly emptied interclavicular and cervical sacs. The afterburner effect occurs as explained above.
- Feeding and diet
Information about the ecology and diet of Valfalk is limited due to their inhabitants of relatively inaccessible environments. Based on sightings and observations, however, it could be concluded that aquatic animals near the surface such as Ludroth form a part of their diet. Their keen eyesight and highly developed brain allow them to spot aquatic prey from a distance and adjust for refraction before stopping down, accelerating towards their quarry. As It hits the water, Valfalk closes off its chest vents and nostrils and the nictitating membranes remain shut tight on the eyes. They grasp the slippery prey with their curved talon and barbed fingers while expelling the remaining amount of air in their jet tract to propel themselves out of the water to restart its propulsion. If the prey is not instantly killed by the impact and the bladed end of the claw flexing into their internal organs, it would likely die or be rendered incapacitated from the G-force of the sudden acceleration. Their feeding mechanism is akin to a combination of Earth’s falcons and komodo dragons, pinning the food down with their talons, puncturing the flesh with their hooked bill and violently pulling with their neck muscles while also incorporating back-and-forth sawing motions of the tightly packed ziphodont dentition. They can’t swallow much in a single gulp but are able to rip and process meat extremely quickly. Underwater prey is also unable to hear the booming sound of its jet propulsion.
While there is no direct evidence, it is also possible, considering the evidence, that they also feed upon small-medium sized Elder Dragons whenever possible. Valfalk’s entire body and attacks are loaded with the dragon element, which is a weakness for most other Elders but not Valfalk itself. While it does have a significant number of other elemental weaknesses, its heavy use of the dragon element can rapidly induce a dragonblight effect, somewhat neutering other Elder Dragons’ advantages against it. This would also explain its extreme adaptations as it would want to strike as fast and hard as possible. Catching flying Elder Dragons off guard with a crippling strike, It would employ its sheer kinetic impact force to deal as crippling a blow as possible. This method of hunting bears similarities to Earth’s peregrine falcon (albeit scaled up to 6-7 tons travelling at up to roughly Mach 1 and wielding titanium spear-tipped wings loaded with a substance poisonous to other Elder Dragons) while Nergigante’s tactics are more akin to big cats, bears, or eagles. They would likely initiate a dive from several, maybe over a dozen kilometres above the Elder Dragon to gain as much speed as possible before alerting their prey to their presence with the sound. However, since most Elder Dragons usually have heightened senses, Valfalk could deliberately stun them with a sudden roar of its jets. This hypothesis could also explain how they efficiently restock their dragon element supply. They would also be able to go for long periods without food if they feed on Elder Dragons due to their high energy and bio-energy content, affording them the peace and solitude they crave. If dragon sightings are too sparse, they would then rely on other prey, such as Ludroth, to sustain their more regular bodily functions.
Though normally passive and calm when not hunting, Valfalk is an extremely dangerous threat to all forms of foes if provoked. Despite their unmatched aerial velocity and respectable agility, they prefer to fight on land, using their wings as weapons. By turning their wings around, they can swipe and slam with the edged sides of the digits. When in the normal position, they can dislocate their second and third digits, extending over the first while being powered by the thrusters, acting as a giant lance, before quickly pivoting their entire body around, slashing with the fused and edged tops of the digits. They can blast sustained bursts of dragon energy out of the thrust nozzles while swiping to burn, melt, and dragonblight the aggressor. They can also fire out short bursts of burning dragon energy contained in mucous in volleys. Under high stress, they will enter a fight or flight state, flooding their body with the refined dragon element which vents out through the horns and claws and ignites as they come in contact with air while giving their wings an intense afterburner effect. In this state, their senses are heightened, their muscles are more powerful, and every blow is overflowing with dragon energy. If even this isn’t enough to deter or kill an aggressor, Valfalk will perform a seemingly suicidal attack, jetting skywards to an extreme altitude, making a circle to accelerate and zero in on their target, before diving down, apparently breaking the sound barrier, and slamming into the targets with their edged wings and body which are now covered in the dragon element. This usually ends up in some broken bones, crushed cartilage, some internal bleeding for the Valfalk, which is then quickly repaired by the activation of the large stem cell stores and dragon energy boosted cellular regeneration. Meanwhile, the target, barring only the most durable and bulky of monsters, will usually be rendered dead or crippled, suffering from pulverized bones, organ damage, severe internal and external bleeding, and an overdose of the dragon element.
3.Reproduction and life cycle
There is no information regarding the reproduction and life cycle of Shara Ishvalda though it is possible that they could asexually reproduce like Fatalis and Nergigante.
As an Elder Dragon, Valfalk likely possesses above-average intelligence. They can accurately wield and aim their complicated attacks as well as their aerial manoeuvres. These manoeuvres would also require them to efficiently process information though they can suffer from tunnel vision and accidentally fly straight through airships or other monsters. They can also distinguish an underwater prey’s actual location from their refracted image. They also appear to be quite passive and won’t engage in an unnecessary conflict unless provoked. Their problem-solving intelligence would require further observations to be determined.
Classification and Evolution:
Valfalk’s evolutionary history is largely unknown though it is likely that it is the closest living relative to Shara Ishavalda as both Elder Dragons have a similar body frame, reduced wing membranes, and a complex respiratory system with the ability to absorb air through their chest and exude it from their wings. However, the two species are likely only somewhat distantly related as they have largely different external appearances and likely diet. The pressures leading to the evolution of its jet propulsion (as well as Shara Ishvalda’s air cannons) is almost a complete mystery. A possible explanation is that the feature originally evolved to improve flight controls and velocity while slowly taking over as the primary method of propulsion. The addition of the dragon element was a gradual shift, adding small boosts of speeds by burning a little at first before increasing as the respiratory system built up resistance towards the heat and pressure. These extremely specialized adaptations could’ve risen out of competition with other Elder Dragons and/or, if the above dietary hypothesis is correct, to hunt Elder Dragons.
The Biology of Fatalis: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/jx10ag/the_biology_of_fatalis/
The Biology of Vaal Hazak:https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/k57iww/the_biology_of_vaal_hazak/
The Biology of Shara Ishvalda: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/ke8hfr/the_biology_of_shara_ishvalda/
The Biology of Zinogre: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/kt1obd/the_biology_of_zinogre/
The Biology of Nargacuga: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/l4nwov/the_biology_of_nargacuga/
Avian Respiratory Anatomy: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdrespiration.html
Properties and Plausibility of Metal Bones: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702110700201#:~:text=The%20bones%20in%20your%20body,all%20three%20of%20those%20properties.
Next one: Shagaru/Gore Magala
Source: Original link
© Post "The Biology of Valfalk (/Valphalk/Valstrax) with drawings and diagrams!" for game Monster Hunter World.
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