Friday, August 8, 2008

The Parrotmen of Venus, Pt. 1

Der Pappegaivolk von Venus
[The Parrotmen of Venus]
By Doctor Fritz Hammacher and Professor Heinrich Schlemmer

das Deutsche Kaiserliche Institut fur AuBerirdische Gelehrten
[Imperial German Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Study]

The Parrotmen of Venus are a strange folk. Infinitely more civilized than their far more numerous ancient enemies, the various tribes of lizardmen, they are still quite savage by Earth standards. Consider them, perhaps, as you would the more savage tribes of natives in Equatorial Africa or the Amazonian Jungle, or indeed, the American West.

Parrotman Anatomy and Biology

Physically, the Parrotmen are much taller than humans, but quite thin for their size, weighing much less than a human of comparable height would. Their skins are brightly colored, as are the feathers that they have in place of mammalian hair. These feathers appear on the limbs and both genders display a crest upon the back of the head. The body is bilaterally symmetrical, with two arms, two legs, et cetera. On the hands they have two fingers and two opposable thumbs to either side of the palm. The feet display four toes as well, but similarly to humans, without an opposing digit. All fingers and toes are taloned. A hump high on the back of the Parrotmen is thought to have once been an attachment point for wings, but today not even a vestigial wing (similar to the African ostrich) remains.

Facially, the Parrotmen have no mouth proper, but rather a large, very hard beak designed for tearing and crushing. Two eyes are set in the front of the head, indicating their role as omnivorous predators. Their diet consists primarily of meat and carrion, with both wild and cultivated plant matter added to provide nutrients and filler. No external ears exist, but two small holes, one to either side of the head, allow the Parrotmen to have what seems to be an extremely acute sense of hearing. An interesting discovery in relation to the physiognomy of the head is that Parrotmen are capable of reproducing most sounds they hear, and are in fact excellent mimics. Unlike the lizardmen, Parrotmen are capable of human speech.

Internally, Parrotmen are quite distinct from humans. Their bones are not hollow, as a Terrestrial bird’s are, but they are porous, with millions of tiny bubbles in the structure of the bone. It is quite similar to a honeycomb, though obviously made from a hard, calcinated material rather than soft wax. The cardiovascular system differs in that Parrotmen have two three-chambered hearts, either one capable of sustaining life. The species also has two stomachs, although the first is more similar to a terrestrial bird’s gizzard. Finally, the kidneys are quite large, and are incredibly efficient at neutralizing toxins which would be nearly instantly fatal to humans.

Reproduction and Maturation

Reproductively speaking, the species has two genders, male and female. Parrotmen are oviparous. The fertility period for females begins on the first day of the Venusian spring, and lasts for only five days. The female will lay one egg each day. Fertilized eggs have a golden sheen to their thick shells; unfertilized eggs are a dull white. In olden days, the female would then care for the egg directly, ensuring its warmth and proper rotation within the nest. The Parrotmen have developed an artificial incubator, in which an entire tribe’s eggs can be placed. Gestation takes 126 days, at which point the infant will crack the shell using its beak. Infants are essentially helpless for the remainder of their first (Venusian) year[1], and are restricted to the tribe’s communal nesting area during that time. They are fed a paste containing both animal and vegetable products during this time, gradually working towards solid food.

By one year of age, the young Parrotman is able to walk and feed itself. It begins to learn the speech of its tribe at about the same time and will quickly gain fluency as a result of their incredible mimicking ability. As a juvenile, Parrotmen are allowed to exit the communal nursery but are kept within the arboreal tribal village area. They are expected to assist in chores around the village, including food preparation, assisting in the cultivation of various plants, and other tasks. This juvenile period lasts for three years.

Following the juvenile period, the young Parrotman develops into an adolescent. It is during this time period that the Parrotman matures sexually. In addition, it will grow rapidly, approaching its full adult height by the end of this two year period. During the adolescent phase, elders begin the instruction of the Parrotman’s particular caste (more on caste later). By the end of this phase, the Parrotman is ready to take its place as an adult in the tribe, following the caste-appropriate maturity rituals.

[1] For ease of reference, all times should be considered Venusian, rather than terrestrial. The Venusian year lasts for 224 Earth days, or approximately 6/10 of an Earth year.

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