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PEOPLES OF SERRANA

by Chris Wayan, 2004

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A bestiary--no, a sentiary, a chart of sentient species on Serrana. Click on a species for pictures and cultural details.

SPECIES WHAT? WHERE? BEHAVIOR
Raptors

Small dinosaurs like fierce feathered kangaroos. Hot-blooded, bipedal, long-tailed. Viviparous with marsupial pouches. Omnivorous hunters; prey included other sentients until they too adopted spears and fire, and trade became wiser than war. Raptors now ranch small nonsentient taurs and roosaurs for meat and eggs. Ubiquitous in drier climates, and a shaggy subspecies has been settling the cool northern forest too. They can't breathe freely at high altitude. Originally warrior cultures, valuing honor and status. Duels for mates are ritualized and common (for both sexes). Elegant, vain, with bright tails and crests. Raptors pioneered anatomy and surgery. Arts: leatherwork, featherwork, intricate calligraphy, and the flirting bone-flute dance.
Taurlope

Gracile, rather cheetah-like centaurs common on Serrana's veldt, with somewhat equine heads, manes and tails, but paws not hooves, and four-digit hands. Coats vary greatly, from spots to stripes to plain, by region and tribe. Originally herbivores, they still can digest cellulose (and poorer tribes must), but tool use has increased their intake of fruit, leaves, buds, bugs and fish. Veldts and savannas like Mosnoll and Tutitsni. Historically wary of raptors and sometimes patronizing to hexapi; but liberal taurlopes are now found in racially mixed communities, even in warmer woods. High-strung, playful, beautiful and very aware of it. Prone to religious visions and ecstasy. Fond of poetry, song, stories, music, dancing, sex--better yet, all of them at once. Not violent, but hot-tempered; be warned that taurlopes kick if teased.
Planians

Cameloid relatives of the taurlope strayed into the high planos above the Tsud Desert and speciated into the Planians: rounded, golden, fluffy, like centauroid llamas or vicuñas. An amiable, hardy, stubborn people, calmer than their lowland relatives the taurlopes, for they had few natural enemies--raptors can't keep up in thin air. Their heartland: the planos of the Tsud Desert: Mosnoll, Pedess, Eronit, and Reppok. In recent peaceful eras, they spread north to Yanneba Plano and huge Rakach. Farmers. Superb weavers, rivaling squid. Planians invented writing, murals, and sculpture. Fond of color, fur-dyes, cosmetics. Music: tale-ballads like a rap-classical fusion, or whalesong. At dances, huge woodwinds send players into a hyper-ventilation trance.
Mammoths

Not mammals--Serrana's "mammoths" began as 4-legged, long-snouted "crabs" who climbed into "mangrove" forests and adapted to air. Their snout-feeler developed "fingers;" the skeleton internalized. The crabs grew elephantine, browsing trees from ground level. Raptors killed off some species, but huge shaggy lichen-eating tundra crabs adopted bone weapons and survived. North polar tundra, Rakach Plateau, and the Sa Rethen Mts. They've recently settled Narek Head. In the south: the polar tundra, the Leas Mtns and Reppok Plano. Nomadic musical storytellers. Shamanic mystics, rejecting religious hierarchy or traditions--each individual must build up an inner spiritual language and cycle of visionary tales, which can be told to others by the owner, but not passed further on. Psychologically astute, mammoths are superb actors and singers.
Treesquid

Squid climbed into the rainforest canopy like tree-crabs. Squid aren't deaf, but nearly mute; the chromatophores in their skin let them change color; squid speak in colored pictographs--skin-cartoons! Omnivores, they net pseudobirds and fish, though most of their diet is fruit, leaf buds, insects. They've adopted arboriculture, tending fruit and nut trees. Warm woods round the Eamet Rim: Sosna, Ynlor, Yrelor Island, Anigvess, the Tutitsni Delta. Recent settlements in Ngirpsderr Basin and the Green Shore. The Woble Islands may be next. Squid are master artists--unrivaled design, pacing, concision, abstraction. Squid go for baroque. They print half the books on Serrana, though the Planians do compete. Superb actors and musicians--but not singers. Chordal didgeridoos; radial trap-harps, derive from trapnets; great trunk-drums you play by slamdancing inside.
Hexapi

Hexapi descend from treesquid who stepped onto the veldt. Tall and rangy, their tentacles range from stout "legs" to delicate "pinkies"--the toughest can juggle hot coals. Hexapi can't form pictographs on their leathery hide, so they speak in signs. Hairy topknots serve as sunshades, flyswatters and camouflage, turning green, brown, and blonde to match seasonal grass-colors. Open forest and veldt. Common on coastal islands, too--the best sailors on Serrana. Hexapi don't like high mountains, deserts, tundra or cold boreal forests. Diverse! Farmers, fishers, traders, travelers. Builders, burrowers, or tribes passing lightly as clouds over the grass, carrying only their beloved parasols (hexapi rainbathe not sunbathe). They hunt small game, snare birds and fish. Root-digging and berrying led to the earliest agriculture on Serrana; many tropical crops are Hexapian.
Woodogs

Cat-sized relatives of mammoths, these quadrupeds use their snouts to drill into big trees, living in large colonies. Brain and body size have grown over the last 5 million years. The Green Shore subspecies (SE Narek Sea) builds treehouses in the branches, out of wood cut from other trees, so they don't weaken their own. Since they're not confined to the trunk, these "dogs" ARE dog-size--and brighter than chimps. The rarest species listed. Colonies may be found in the wooded northern shores of the Niirg Sea, the Tutisni Rainforest to the west, and especially the Green Shore of the Narek Sea, where they evolved. Are woodogs people? Debatable. But they're still climbing the evolutionary ladder. They use few tools, but have art and languages: individuals of both sexes compete for status and mates by singing, dancing, drumming, and body decoration. Their dance-language, unlike bees', is not instinctive but learned; the Green Shore dance-dialect has terms for emotions, abstractions, even time.
Flying Foxes

Cat-to-dog sized pack animals with chimplike brains. Omnivorous, preferring meat. These centauroid mammals look nothing like Earth's marsupial "flying foxes." Picture a red fox with hawk-wings stuck on (the middle limb-pair, modified). All four non-winged limbs have handlike paws. Open woods and canyons, deserts (including the deep Tsud)--wherever isolated trees or cliffs provide safe nesting sites. Cliffs are preferred; foxes will burrow like cliff swallows. Flying foxes are appealing, intelligent creatures; several species make pets of them. But they may be an evolutionary dead end. Fox brains are huge for their body-size. But foxes are as big as fliers can get in Serrana's thin air, so unlike woodogs, they can't afford to grow heavier.

Map of Serrana, a world-building experiment. Click a feature to go there.
TOUR SERRANA! Click a region for a detailed ground-level tour: Aburros Sea - Woble Range - Yanneba Basin and Plano - Mosnoll and Eronit Basins - The Tsud Desert - Eamet Ocean and South Pole - Leas, Niirg, and Narek: The Lesser Seas - The Rakach Plateau and the Northlands

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