Race Name: Animarians
Homeworld Name: Animaria
Religions: localized folk
Main Cities: none
Biology & Diet
Animarians are a primarily avian race, dwelling in treetop settlements and spending the majority of their time moving about by flight. Their legs and feet are more suited for aiding in their ability to land than their ability to walk, and an Animarian who spends a long time standing becomes fatigued quickly. Their wing feathers are generally light colored though may sport a variety of markings. They are not true mammals, though are not true reptiles or birds either. Their physiology is a mixture of all three.
It may appear to the unintiated that Animarians have hair on their heads, but this is a misconception. The 'hair' is made up of lengthy, thin and extremely fine feathers and is essentially a crest. The color of this crest varies, but is typically brighter on Animarians who are closer in gender expression to mammalian males than female.
From birth, Animarians have a set of keratinous horns which grow above their browline on their heads. The length, number and curviture of the horns vary. The horns are present from the day an Animarian hatches and grow larger over time. They are inversely preportional to body mass- the larger the Animarian is in overall build, the smaller their horns will be.
Animarians do not develop space blindness. Their eyes have a natural inner lid which protects them from radiation and improves their ability to hunt in bright sunlight. They are one of the few races found to have no retnal damage while travelling through space.
With a flattened reptilian snout and dark grey skin, Animarians have an otherwise relatively humanoid body shape. They have been compared to both angels and gargoyles, though neither is a truly apt description.
The dietary needs of the Animarians reflect their snout shape and they are omnivores with a tendency toward vegtable and insect matter. A high protein diet is essential for the energy required to keep an Animarian aloft. Their excellent eyesight and ability to range long distances make them capable at hunting and fishing, and some clans are truly experts in these areas, but the diet of the general population does not reflect a carnivorous lifestlye.
Sexual Dimorphism & Reproduction
Unlike earth avians, Animarians can develop mammaries meant to nurse their young. Some Animarians prefer to retain the appearance of these mammaries when dealing with mammalian races as well, but not all do. Larger built Animarians have a significantly higher percentage of mammary development.
The small crests of feathers across Animarian breastbones and hipbones are primarily to retain pheramones of the owner which can communicate their sexual status (or lack thereof). Ruffling of ones' feathers is seen as a flirtatious gesture. Generally these feathers are covered in modest settings.
Generally Animarians who are smaller of stature with larger horns are regarded as masculine. A lower need for sustinance allows them to range farther distances. Reproduction in their case is very similar to that of earth birds, requiring no insertation.
Animarians are oviparous, and once an egg is laid (typically by the larger of the parents) it must be tended for three months before the chick can hatch. A communal loft is prepared for the eggs, which are quite large - about the size of a yoga ball. Both the local clan and the parents take part in caring for eggs in the communal loft. The chick uses the horned crest on their head to butt free of the shell and emerges covered in downy feathers. The chick will nurse from their parent for several months and will begin to develop teeth and functional feathers at about the same time they begin to speak. They are considered fully grown once they take their first flight, but not fully mature until they are over two decades old.
Language & Culture
Animarian languages vary widely between different settlements over the surface of the planet, which is sparsely populated. Settlements identify themselves as a clan, though there may be little familial or geneological relation within these clans. All languages are deeply complex and rich in expression and sound, as Animarians are profoundly philosophical and naturally strive to express the world around themselves. The concept of being sloppy or crass with language is abhorrent to them, and they tend to shun even contractions when speaking alien tongues.
Chicks are raised communally, though their parents take primary responsibility barring misfortune or absence. Chicks learn their peoples' history and different trades primarily through oral tradition, although parchment of written records have been kept by some clans. They learn to speak early - usually around the time their first teeth come in.
Due to the sparse population density, most Animarian clans specialize in a few areas of skill and choose to trade or ally with neighboring clans to support themselves. While conflict can erupt between clans and can end in bloodshed and aerial battle, most clans do their best to avoid such outright violence as a solution.
Never the less, the Animarian bladed bracer is omnipresent in each and every clan - a traditional tool which can double as a weapon and is gifted to a child by their community shortly after their first flight. An Animarian will go through many bracers in their lifetime and may keep several for different purposes. At its most basic, the bracer aids the fairly large Animarians in finding or making purchase on the world's ancient trees.
Once an Animarian is able to fly the distances between clan settlements, they begin a pilgrimage with others their age to expand their world view. They learn the local languages, trades, beliefs and traditions before deciding if they want to settle in any given clan for a time. It is thought this propensity to wander learning and hearing new language in their youth that enabled the Animarians off of their homeworld to pick up Uni with relative ease.
An aspect of Animarian culture often overlooked by other races is their tradition of foot "hindclaw" grinding. The hindclaw, being relatively small, is not something that draws the eye. However, to Animarians, the hindclaw is one of the major ways personal alliances and identity are expressed. The grinding is done through ritualistic carving of patterns into the keratin of the claw, either by the individual or the family, and sometimes inlaying the pattern with color. Some documented methods include precious metals, paint, flaked shell and resins. The style in which the hind claw is inlaid and the colors used inform other Animarians about the individual's past, occupation, status and self identity.
Religion & Rulerism
Animarian religion varies from region to region and clan to clan in its tradition, although the creation myth is generally of one similar narrative. In this mythos, Animarians began as leaves of a tree (or in some cases, feathers of a great bird) that broke free and blew through the skies before landing, and thus became the peoples they are today.
Localized ceremonies and celebrations may commemorate things such as: hatch days, first flight, deaths, a new member of the clan, a new business or venture, an important local holiday or a blessing for safety. Because there are well over 2000 clans on the surface of Animaria and contact with the Animarians by other races is discouraged, it has proven difficult to document the specific details of each clan's beliefs and rituals. But it is clear that the bladed bracer, the hindclaw inlaying and the importance of the skies are all of at least partially religious significance to Animarians.
Unlike many races, Animarians heard about Rulerism before interacting with Rulerists themselves. They have not been solicited to convert to Rulerism and in general their planet is ignored by the mega-church.
However, due to the sacred nature of the skies, when an alien ship escaping an overcome Rulerist opposition base landed in need of assistance, Animarians felt compelled to help fight against the religion.
It is worth mentioning that Animarians after first contact became aware of the fact that they resemble angels in some Earth religious iconography. They saw this as some sort of cosmic significane, that those from the sacred skies would inform them that they themselves looked sacred. They do not believe themselves to be sacred and instead treat this knowledge as proof all beings should be aware of the importance of one another in the grand scheme of things.
Technology & Alien Cultures
As previously covered, Animarians' first contact with alien races was with refugees of Rulerism. Until this fairly recent point in time, Animaria had only been observed from orbit and with satellite imagery, in an effort to prevent any kind of cross-cultural or technologic conflict.
The reason for this was that quite simply put, Animarians do not appear on first inspection to be as advanced as some other races. They do not build cities and are not producers of large industry. It has become clear through observation that this is not in any way reflective upon their intelligence or development as a species. Simply because they have not developed a tendency towards capitalism does not make them primative.
Satellite observation enabled many races to become familiar with Animarians through literature on them, but until first contact no one had ever interacted face to face with the avians. After assisting the ship which landed on Animaria in desperation, it was decided that a small contingent lead by Solla Flint would leave thier planet and enter the sacred skies to see what could be learned of troubles outside of their world. Once in the presence of alien technology and space travel, it was very clear to any who crossed their paths that Animarians were extremely adaptable and natural analytical thinkers and strategists. They easily master most computer systems from the user end and are able to understand mechanical concepts that many presumed to be beyond them. They do not, however, appear to have any desire to master modes of transit other than flight. Animarians are content to be passengers but not drivers or pilots.
Animarians living off-world regard themselves less as ambassadors and more as anthropologists, though they are often employed in other capacities. They are not certain if they will ever return to Animaria, but they believe that it would be a waste were they not to attempt to understand aliens around them. There seems to be some belief that if they are to understand aliens, in some way, other Animarians will be able to as well. If this employs some interstellar telepathy or is simply a reflection on their faith in one another, it is unknown. Animarians tend to keep their opinions of other aliens to themselves.
At the current time, fewer than 20 Animarians are living off Animaria with no future plans for additional Animarians to join them. The homeworld remains much as it has for generations prior to first contact, though the oral history now includes the time messengers from the sacred skies begged for help and the people of Animaria responded, and so several chosen ones ascended higher than flight could take them to assist in their struggle.